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Discovering disorder: young people and delinquency
Discovering disorder: young people and delinquency

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2.6 Summary

The previous sections explored the micro theories of criminal behaviour that focus on individuals, and why some people commit crimes and others do not.

  • Psychological theories look at the risk factors for individuals to commit crime, not society more widely or why certain groups of people may commit crime.
  • Eysenck’s theory looked at the link between biology, personality and crime, and suggested that people who commit crimes score more highly on the three scales of extraversion (E), neuroticism (N) and psychoticism (P).
  • Eysenck’s theory has been praised for combining the biological and social processes to try and understand why some people commit crimes and others do not. Yet, research using Eysenck’s personality measures, the EPI and the EPQ, has failed to find support for Eysenck’s claim that offenders score more highly on the three scales, as compared to non-offenders.
  • Farrington’s ICAP theory and the Cambridge study looked at risk factors that could potentially lead a person to commit crime. Personality is one risk factor for crime; other factors include size of family, poverty, child-rearing practices, school attainment and employment.
  • The ICAP theory also examines situational factors that may influence a person to behave in a deviant way, for example alcohol, drugs, and feelings of boredom and frustration.
  • The ICAP theory has been praised for its emphasis on short-term and long-term risk factors that may lead to crime, and has been influential in implementing programmes to try to reduce offending. However, the ICAP theory has been criticised for not taking into account the influence of the neighbourhood on offending.