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

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4.1 The psychological approach

For those studying the causes of crime, the organising question is: how can delinquent/deviant behaviour be explained? This leads to a search for explanatory factors: conditions, characteristics, processes or relationships. It orients such work towards some types of evidence: questionnaire data; statistical comparisons (between a deviant group and a normal or ‘control’ group); longitudinal studies (following a set of individuals over a long period). It also leads to certain types of theory: theories that develop causal explanations between the critical factor(s) and the delinquent/deviant behaviour. Such theories might be pitched at different levels of analysis: the micro-level of individual personality and circumstance; the meso-level of immediate conditions and relationships: the family, the neighbourhood, the group; and the macro-level of the wider social, economic and political structures.