AG eneral Theory of Crime Gottfredson and Hirschi (1990)

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					    A General Theory of Crime
Gottfredson and Hirschi (1990)

      “OOPS” -Travis Hirschi
         The Nature of Crime and Criminals

Criminal Acts…                    Criminals are therefore…
Provide immediate gratification   Impulsive
of desires

Are risky/thrilling               Risk-taking

Are easy/simple                   Physical (as opposed to mental)
Require little skill/planning     Low verbal ability

Provide few/meager long term      Short-sighted

Result in pain/discomfort to a    Insensitive
                          Low Self-Control
• The cluster of traits (impulsive, insensitive…)
  tend to come together in people
• They are present before “crime”
• They tend to persist through life

• Personality? G&H argue against this
          Causes of Low Self-Control
• We are all born without self-control
   – Self Control is established in early childhood (age 8)
   – Causes must be in early childhood
• Parents failure to supervise, recognize, punish
   – Straight from Patterson, but no role for “positive
     learning” (positive reinforcement)
• Biology? Infants might differ on “impulsiveness
  or verbal ability…but all can be socialized.
   Is Gerald Patterson a Control
 Theorist or a Learning Theorist?

• In the field of Psychology = Social Learning
• In the field of Criminology?
  – Most likely a control theorist
     • Assumption about human nature, “direct controls”
  – BUT, has elements of learning theory, which
    Akers notes
 Implications of Low Self-Control

• The sole cause of crime and “analogous
  – All Crime?
  – “Analogous Behaviors?”
• Explains “stability” of criminality
  – Low self-control is stable over time
• What does this mean for Hirschi’s social
                                  2 Explanations
From Aker’s Book (Social Selection & Social Causation)

                          Social Bonds
      Low Self Control                         Crime

 Pure Social Selection
                            Poverty, Delinquent Peers,
                            Social Bonds, Poverty

      Low Self Control                          Crime
                          Empirical Support

• Tautology Problems
  – Only if self control inferred from“behavioral
    measures” (e.g., delinquency)
  – Confusion over “criminality” and “crime”
• Attitudinal measures
  – I would you rather read a book than engage in physical
  – I tend to be value the “here and now” and do not like to
    plan my life.
       Empirical Support With
        Attitudinal Measures

• Moderate correlation with delinquency,
  crime, and “analogous behaviors”
• Controlling for low self-control weakens,
  but doesn’t eliminate “social” causation
  – In other words, it appears as though low self-
    control is not the sole cause of crime
• Are white collar offenders different from
  “street” offenders? (Some evidence they are)
                      Policy Implications

• Low self-control stable after age 8
   – Only “early prevention” can reduce crime
   – Train parents, support parents??

• Typical “rehabilitation” won’t reduce crime
• Changing “bonds” won’t reduce crime
• Early intervention with parents?

• Scope?
• Parsimony?
• Criticisms?
  – Why do people desist from criminal activity?
  – Not the “sole” cause of crime
  – Bonds still more important?

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