Chapter 7: Psychological/Trait Theories of Crime

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Key Propositions

Psychoanalytic Perspective

The Id, Ego, and Superego; Anxiety, defense mechanisms, and the unconscious.

Sigmund Freud;

August Aichorn

Individuals may be unaware of their unconscious experiences; they seek some form of expression until these are brought to awareness. Attempt to uncover unconscious motives of individuals engaging in criminal behavior.

Theory of Crime and Personality

Personality can be viewed in three dimensions: psychoticism, extraversion, and neuroticism (the PEN-model).

Hans Eysenck

Initially, Eysenck focused on two personality dimensions (neuroticism and extraversion) in terms of how they are linked to criminality; later he incorporated the psychoticism dimension.

Moral Development

Three levels of morality: preconventional, conventional, and postconventional. Within each level are two stages.

Lawrence Kohlberg

Depending on an individual’s level of moral development, he or she will perceive issues such as right and wrong, avoiding punishment, responsibility, societal rules, and respecting human life in a different form of reasoning.

Attachment Theory

Seven essential features: specificity, duration, engagement of emotion, course of development, learning, organization, and biological function.

John Bowlby

Mary Ainsworth

Individuals may react in certain ways if they experienced some type of separation, or they may have weak attachments to significant others.

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