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Research Article Synopsis on Crime and Propensity

Essay by review  •  March 12, 2011  •  Research Paper  •  1,883 Words (8 Pages)  •  891 Views

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1. What are the main findings in the literature review presented in the Introduction? (15)

The main findings in the literature review presented in the Introduction are that reports from these studies are contradictory in that some report a weak deterrent effect for those least likely to commit crime, whereas some a strong effect. The literature review found that there are three basic but conflicting answers to the question "Does the threat of punishment differ according to a person's motivation or propensity to commit crime?", that can be formulated from the literature on these studies: (1) All individuals respond generally the same way to sanction threats, where criminal inclination does not matter, (2) criminal offenders who are impulsive and present-oriented are less responsive to sanction threats because they are "distant in time". These individuals have high criminal motivation (propensity), which reduces the impact of the deterrent. (3) Those individuals who are low in criminal propensity are not motivated to commit crimes or are deterred by other factors such as moral concerns. This means that sanction threats should not matter to those low in criminal propensity and should have the greatest deterrent effect on those expressing high criminal propensity/motivation, creating a positive correlation between criminal propensity and deterrent effects of sanction threats.

The literature review also found that sometimes the extent of the deterrent effect in different groups differs for the certainty and severity of punishment. The review found that because many of the studies' variables relied on self-reports, some subjects with a criminal propensity may boast that they would commit a crime regardless of the certainty or severity of the punishment, while acting in a more cautious manner in the real world. The studies also relied on university student samples, having relatively minor offending. This sample may not have adequate variation in criminal propensity to effectively test the research hypothesis, because it cannot necessarily be generalized to the general public.

2. What is the purpose of the study and what is the hypothesis? (10)

The purpose of this study is to determine if the perceived risk of punishment will deter individuals with criminal propensity (motivation/intentions). The research hypothesis of this study is that "the deterrent effect of sanction threats (punishment) varies depending upon individuals' level of propensity to commit crime."

3. Describe, in detail, the methods (e.g., methodology, participants) (20)

This study conducted an analysis of data from the Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study (Silva and Stanton 1996). The participants of the Dunedin study were children born from April 1972 through March 1973 in Dunedin, New Zealand (population 120,000). The rates of crime and victimization in New Zealand were found to be similar to those in other countries, therefore this study can be generalized to other industrialized countries, particularly in the study of criminal behaviour. A total of 1,037 individuals participated in the first follow-up assessment at age 3. These participants formed the base sample for a longitudinal study, with high levels of participation, at ages 5 (n = 991), 7 (n = 954), 9 (n = 955), 11 (n =

925), 13 (n = 850), 15 (n = 976), 18 (n = 1,008), 21 (n = 992), and 26 (n = 980).

The study members were given a diverse array of medical, psychological, and sociological tests/meausres at each assessment. Data about the study members were collected from the study members themselves, parents, teachers, informants, and trained observers.

The study used a longitudinal design, which analyzed propensity in childhood, adolescents, and early adulthood (ages 3-21), deterrence perceptions in late adolescents and early adulthood (ages 18-21), and criminal behaviour in early adulthood to late adulthood (ages 21-26). The study analyzed 3 separate measures of criminal propensity: low self-control in childhood, low self-control in adolescence, and self-perceived criminality. To measure low self control in childhood, they used nine separate subscales (at ages 3, 5, 7, 9, 11): Lack of Control was

measured by trained observers at ages 3 and 5. Data on Hyperactivity and Antisocial

Behavior were collected from parents and teachers at ages 5, 7, 9, and 11 using the Rutter Behavioral Scales (Rutter, Tizard, and Whitmore 1970). The data for Impulsivity, Lack Of Persistence, and Hyperactivity were collected from parents and teachers at ages 9 and 11 using scales found in the Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders III (McGee et al. 1992). Hyperactivity, Inattention, and Impulsivity were self-reported by the participants themselves at age 11 using the Diagnostic Interview Schedule for Children (Costello et al. 1982). A total of 167 separate measurements were used to acquire the data for the variable of Childhood Low Self-Control.

The variable "adolescent low self-control" comprises seven subscales:

Hyperactivity was self-reported by study members at age 15 using a scale

from the Diagnostic Interview Schedule for Children (Costello et al. 1982).

Inattention was collected from parents at age 15 using the Peterson-QuayBehavioral Checklist (Quay and Peterson 1987). Impulsivity, Physical

Response to Conflict, and Risk-taking were self-reported by study members

at age 18 using the Multidimensional Personality Questionnaire (Tellegen

and Waller 1994). Impulsivity and Inattention were collected from informants

at age 18 with single-item measures. "Adolescent low self-control"

sums these scales and contains information from 76 measurement items

(Wright et al. 1999a).

The variable "self-perceived criminality" was measured at both ages 18

and 21 with the following question: "Compared to most people your age,

about howwould your rate yourself on this scale from 1 to 10? 1 = you do less

illegal things than the average person, 10 = you do more illegal things than

the average person, and

...

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