Bartol & Bartol

Bartol & Bartol - All 7‘“ 44m A j Source Bartol...

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Unformatted text preview: All 7‘“ 44m A j ' - Source: Bartol, C.R., & Bartol, A.M. (2005). Criminal behavior: :3 f: ' A psychosocial approach. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall CHAPTER .........ouuu.uu......,._ ~ 'ORIGINS OF CRIMINAL: BEHAVIOR: LEARNING AND" SITUATIONAL FACTORS ' - " eople do not come into situations empty—headed. They have an infinite store of living experiences and an extensive repertoire of strategies for reacting to events. Up to this point, we have not acknowledged these strategies, concentrating instead on heredity and neurophysiology and the significant roles they may play in the development of criminal behavior. To some extent, in the previous chapter on the psychopath, we covered such childhood influences as parenting and the availability of appropriate models. However, the physiological features were key to understanding‘the develop— ment of psychopathy. - Biological/physiological factors appear to account in part for individual differences in susceptibility'to classicalconditioning. Since the capacity to be. conditioned strongly affects fear of reprisal, it contributes to the inhibition of socially undesirable criminal behavior. However, classical conditioning pre- sumes that the human being is an automaton. That is, classical conditioning aSsumes that humans act in a monotonous routine manner without active intelligence. Pair a neutral stimulus with a- closely following painful event and ‘ 162 Origins of Criminal Behavior: Leaming and Situational factors 163 the alert, intact robot will eventually, and automatically, connect the stimulus ' with the pain. This sequence is probably a very powerful factor In many he- haviors, but certainly not in all or even most. Conditioning 18 only one of sev— eral factors involved in the acquisition of criminal behavior. To understand criminal behavionit is crucial that we regard all individuals—— whether or not they violate the rules of society—mas active problem solvers who perceive, interpret, and respond uniquely to their environments. For the mo- ment, consider unlawful behavior as subjectively adaptable rather than deviant. In this sense, unlawful conduct is a response pattern that a person has found to be effective, or thinks will be effective, in certain circumstances. Violent crimes like aggravated assault and homicide are sometimes called "irrational," "uncontrollable," “explosive,” or "motiveless” and, therefore, are P believed to resist or defy analysis (e. g., President's Commission on Law En- forcement and Administration of Justice 1967). Later 1n this text, however, we will find that different types of violence can be placed into different theoretical frameworks. The decision to act violently may be a quick one, but the violent behavior is usually not irrational or uncontrollable. Even behavior that can be attributed to a severe mental disorder may be adaptive, though it may not be legally culpable. - Engaging in criminal behavior might be one person’s way of adapting or Surviving under physically, socially, or psychologically dire conditions. An- other person might decide ‘that violence is necessary to defend honor, protect self, or reach a personal goal. In either case, the person is choosing what he or she 'believes' IS the best alternative for that particular situation (although real auditioning to include these two distinct forms of learning, which play a or role in the acquisition and maintenance of criminal behavior. Later, we of these topics springs from the school of psychological thought called 'orism, we begin our disciussion there. . ' aper, which appeared in Psychological Review, is considered the first statement on behaviorism, and Watson is thus acknowledged as the ' 164 Chapter 5 (Diserens, 1925). Watson’s behaviorism represents a recurring phase in the cyclical history of psychology. A psychology of consciousness or mind is fol- lowed by a‘psychology of action and behavior (behaviorisrn), from which a psychology of mind and consciousness reemerges. Today, psychology is mov- ing once again toward a psychology of mind, eSpecially cognitive proceSSes_ For the moment, let’s return to Watsonian behaviorism, which has heavily in. fluenced psychological interpretations of criminal behavior. Watson frequently declared that psychology was the science of behavioiz . He believed that psychologists should eliminate the "mind” and all of its re- lated vague concepts from scientific consideration because they could not be observed or measured. He was convinced that the fundamental goal of psy- chology was to understand, predict, and control human behavior, and that only a rigidly scientific approach could accomplish this. Greatly influenced by Ivan Pavlov’s famous research on classical condj- tioning, Watson thought that psychology should focus exclusively on the in. terplay between stimulus and response. A stimulus is an object or event that elicits behavior. 'ted behavior. Watson was convinced A response is the slim that all behavior—both animal and human—was controlled by the external environment in a way similar to that described by Pavlov in his initial study- stimulus produces response . (sometimes called S—R psychology). Therefore, for Watson, classical (or Pavlovian) conditioning was the key to understand- ing, predicting, and controlling behavior, and its practical applicability was unlimited. _ , . The chief spokesperson for behaviorism. for several decades was B. F. Skinner (1904—1990), who was the most influential psychologist in the United 1 5 States in the twentieth century/The Skinnerian perspective especially domi- l nated the application of behavior modification or behavior therapy in the co 1 rectional system and at many institutions for the mentally handicapped l . disturbed. Some contemporary theories about criminal behavior (e.g., like 3 . 1985, 2000) try to integrate Skinnerian behaviorism with sociological perspe tives. It is worthwhile, therefore, to spend some time—sketching the Skinneri. approach to human behavior in general before assessing its impact .on study of criminal behavior. Like Watson, Skinner believed that the primary goal of psychology is prediction and control of behavior. And like Watson, he believed thatizimviro mental or external stimuli are the primary—if not the sole—determi ' all behavior, both human and animal. The environmental stimuli beco _ ependent variables, and the behaviors they elicit the dependent: ‘ In the behavioral sciences, a variable is any entity that can be measu'r havior (or response) is called "dependent” because it is under. the (or dependent on) one or more independent variables. The consisten H‘ -_ I ships between independent and dependent variables (stimulus and i; ' are scientific laws. Thus, according to Skinner, the aim of behaviol’lgs'f}C chology is to uncover these laws, making possible the prediction 55 of human behavior. ._ll an. ”mane - ..._ ., _. ,1 ”A; Origins of Criminal Behavior Learning and Situational Factors 165 Unlike Watson, Skinner did not deny the existence and sometimes useful—- ness of private mental events or internal stimuli. He emphasized, however, that these stimuli are not needed by a science of behavior, since the products of mental activity can be explained in ways that do not require allusion to unob- served mental states. Specifically, mental activity can be explained by observ- ing what a person does, and it is what a person does that counts. Watson, ' remember, insisted that consciousness and mind simply do not exist. Thought, to Watson, was little more than tiny movements of the speech apparatus. At this point, we must emphasize the need to distinguish between behav- iorism as a perspective on human nature and behaviorism as a method of - science As a method of science, behaviorism posits that knowledge about human behavior can be best advanCed if scientists use referents that have a physical basis and can be publicly observed by others. Since private events that ' happen inside our heads cannot be seen by others, they cannot be subjected to the rules of science. According to Skinner, behavioral science data must be comparable to be verified or disconfirmed. Otherwise, psychology would re- main a philosoPhical exercise steeped in armchair Speculation and untestable opinions. Self—proclaimed experts could continue to assert that shoplifting is an addiction just like alcoholism, without being taken to task about the valid- . ity of their statements. Only a well—executed, systematic study in which the .. terms shoplifting and addiction are clearly spelled out and rigorously tested ; will advance our knowledge about the accuracy of the shoplifting—addiction . connection. Therefore every psychological experiment, every sentence writ- en into a psychological report, should be anchored to something that we can all observe or that is testable by another professional. Rather than merely say- ing that someone is atrocious or angry we must identify the precise behaviors ”that prompt us to make these interpretations. This offers a basis for others, in— lucling the person being, observed, to agree or disagree with us. “You’re twitching in your chair. You must be bored.” "No, I’m not! It’s the woolen un- er-wear my aunt sent from Vermont.” ...Concerning behaviorism as a perspective of human nature, Skinnerm—and ‘ajority of psychologists with a strong behavioristic leaning—embraced the that humans differ Only 111 degree from their animal ancestry. The behav— Everbal behavior] would not distinguish man from the [other] animals" Skinner, 1964, p. 156).- -To Skinner, therefore research on subhtunans like Onkeys rats, and pigeons has great value; if carefully done, it will reveal WEuI relationships betWeen all organisms and their environments. rinderstand the basic framework behaviori'sm employs in studying and Xp a ' ‘ ' 166 Chapter 5 ‘ recommendations advocated by this perspective for reducing or changing criminal behavior, such as might be found in the management policy of cer- tain correctional facilities. Clearly, Skinner was also a strong Situationist. All behavior is at the mercy of stimuli in the environment, and individuals have virtually no control or self—determination. Independent thinking and free will are myths. Animals and humans alike react, like complicated robotS, to their environments. The environmental stimuli and the range of reactions are complex and infinite, but with careful research, this complexity is not unmanageable. Complex hu- man behavior can be broken down into more Simple behavior, a procedure sometimes referred to as reductionism. In other words, complicated behav— a ior can be best understood by examining the simplest stimulus—reSponse l chains of behavior. This point brings us to the issue of operant conditioning. Skinner accepted the basic tenets of classical conditioning but asserted I thatwe need an additional type of conditioning to account more fully for all , forms of behavior. Ivan Pavlov conducted a series of experiments on. classical . conditioning with hungry dogs at the turn of the twentieth century. The dogs i did not operate on their environments to receive rewards; the event (food) oc- i curred regardless of what they did. Skinner called this "responding condition- i ‘r l ing” and contrasted it with a situation in which a subject does something that affects the situation. In other words, subjects behave in such a way that rein— forcement is forthcoming. To uncover this Operant conditioning principle, Skinner established an association between behavior and its consequences. I—Ie ‘ ~ 1‘ - trained pigeons (apparently less troublesome and less expensive than dogs) to peek at keys or push levers for food. The pecking and pushing are operations on the environment. Operant conditioning, then, is learning either to make or to withhold a particular response because of its consequences. The operation ' should not be construed to imply self-determination. however. It is simply a reaction to stimuli in order to receive a certain consequence or reward. In this .' sense, the behavior that emerges from operant conditioning—although not automatic—is no more indicative of free will than is the behavior that emerges from classical conditioning. ' p The learning that comes about through operant conditioning was de- scribed before Skinner’s time, but he is credited with drawing contemporary attention to it. In the early nineteenth century, for example; the philosopher , Jeremy Bentham observed that human conduct was controlled by the seeking of pleasure and the avoidance of pain. In essence, this is what is meant by operant learning. It assumesthat people do things solely to receive rewards and avoid punishrhent. The rewards may be physical (e.g., material goods. l' ' money), psychological (e.g., feelings of importance or control over one’s fate), l or social (e. g., improved status, acceptance). .' Skinner called rewards reinforcement, defining that term as anything that increases the probability of future responding. Furthermore, reinforce- ment may be either positive or negative. In positive reinforcement, we gain something .we desire as a consequence of certain behavior. In negative 'L_. Origins of Criminal Behavior: Learning and Situational Factors 167 reinforcement, we avoid an unpleasant event or stimulus as a consequence of certain behavior. For example, if as a child you were able to avoid the un- pleasantness of certainschool days by feigning illness, your malingering was negatively reinforced. Therefore, you were more likely to engage in it again at a future date, in similar circumstances—high school dress-up day, class dis- cussion day in a difficult college course or the day the district supervisor was scheduled to visit the office. Thus both positive and negative reinforcement can increase the likelihood of future behavior. Negative reinforcement is to be distinguished from punishment and ex- tinction. In punishment, an organism receives noxious or painful stimuli as consequences of behavior. In extinction, a person or animal receivesneither reinforcement nor punishment. Skinner argued that punishment is a less ef- feCtive way to eliminate behavior, because it merely suppresses it temporarily. At a later time, under the right conditions, the response is very likely to reoc- cur. Extinction is far more effective, because once the organism learns that a behavior brings no reinforcement, the behavior will be dropped how the repertoire of possible responses for that set of circumstances. According to Nietzel (1979), C. R. Jeffrey (1965) was one of the first crimi- nologists to suggest that criminal behavior was learned according to princi- ples of Skinnerian operant conditioning. Shortly afterward, Burgess and Alters (1966) agreed with this and further hypothesized that criminal behavior was both acquired and maintained through operant conditioning. But, as Nietzel points out, most of the direct evidence for this claim comes from exper- ments with animals. Evidence that the same ocCurs in humans is scarce and eplete with possible alternate minterpretations Nevertheless, neither Jeffrey ombined sociologist Edwin Sutl1erland's principles of social learning with op- he premise that operant conditioning is the basis for the origin of crimi- Jehavior is deceptively simple: Criminal behavior is learned and strength- ‘ d‘by the environment in which they live. He does not completely dis— -‘ ole of genetics in the formation'of behavion but he sees it as a very or Burgess and Akers relied exclusively on Sldnnerian theory. Rather, they, l l l l l l l #11:: 1; 1 168 Chapter 5 minor one; the dominant player is operant conditioning. According to Skinner and his followers, if we wish to eliminate. crime, we must change society I through behavioral engineering based on a scientific conception of man. Hav- ing agreed on rules and regulations (having defined what behaviors constitute antisocial or criminaloffenses), we must design a society in which members ,learn very early that positive reinforcement will not occur if they transgress against these rules and regulations but will occur if they abide by them. This is a tall order, since the reinforcements-for behavior are not always obvious and may actually be highly complex. Property crimes like shoplifting and burglary, or violent crimes like robbery, appear to be motivated in many cases by a desire for physical rewards. However, they may also be prompted by a desire for socialand psychological reinforcements, such as increased sta— tus among peers, self-esteem, feelings of competence, or simply for the thrill of it._ It is a safe bet that much criminal behavior is undertaken for reinforce- ment purposes, positive or negative. The problem then becomes, How do we identify those reinforcements and how do we prevent them from happening or, at least, minimize their value? Contemporary psychology still embraces a behavioristic orientation toward ' the scientific study of behavior but has growri cool toward the Skinnerian per- spective of human nature. All behaviorists are not Skinnerians. Many find Skinner’s brand of behaviorism too limiting (e.g., Bandura, 1983, 1986). While they agree that a stimulus can elicit a reflexive response (classical conditioning) and that a behavior produces consequences that influence subsequent respond- ing (operant conditioning), they are also convinced that additional factors must be introduced to explain human behavior. Cognitive learning is also extremely important, for example. Cognitive learning involves the formation of concepts, schemas, theories, attitudes, beliefs, and other mental or abstract versions of the world. Cognitive psychologists, for example, would argue that mental ' processes are as crucial—if not more so—in understanding criminal action as. behavior itself. . _ This brings us to the topic of mental states and brain-mediational processes, which Skinner urged us to shun. In recent years, many psychologists have been examining the roles played by self-rehfiorcement, anticipatory reinforcement, vicarious reinforcement, andall the symbolic processes that occur within the human brain. To avoid confusion, we must now begin to distinguish Skinnerian behaviorism from other forms,- including social behaviorism (social learning) and differential association—reinforcement. - SOCIAL LEARNING Early learning theorists worked in the laboratory, using animals as their pri— mary subjects. Pavlov’s, Watson’s, and Skinner’s theories, for example, were based on careful, painstaking observations and experiments with animals. The learning principles gleaned from their work were generalized to a wide variety of human behaviors. In many cases, this was a valid process. Few lli . Origins ofCriminal Behavior: Learning and Situational Factors ' 1'69 psychologists would dispute the contention that the concept of reinforcement 3 is one of the most soundly established prinCiples in psychology today. However, behaviorists also suggested that, since all human behavior is learned, it can also be changed, using the same principles by which it was ac— quired. This generated a plethora of behavior therapies or behavior modifica- tion techniques. Use learning principles to establish conditions that change or maintain targeted behaviors and Voila! Therapeutic success! The apparent simplicity of the procedures and methods was especially appealing to many clinicians and other professionals working in the criminal justice system, and behavior modification packages sometimes guaranteed to modify criminal be- " havior were rushed to correctional institutions, including facilities for juve— niles. Prisoners (and juveniles) would be rewarded for good behavior with suchincentives as cigarettes, canteen privileges, or an extra shower. But oversimplification is dangerous when we deal with human complexity. Human beings do respond to reinforcement an...
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