Eysenck's Criminal Personality
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What did Eysenck attribute our personalities to?
The type of nervous system we inherit
What is the criminal personality based on?
A biological framework
What does the inherited nervous system affect?
Our ability to learn from the environment
Why may a different nervous system result in someone becoming a criminal
- They learn from the environment differently
- They are less likely to learn from (or condition to) anxiety responses
- They develop weaker consciences and feel less guilt when committing criminal acts
What were Eysenck's initial personality types?
What would the 'classic' criminal type score in terms of personality?
- High on measures of:
What traits would Extraverts exhibit?
- Sociable, outgoing, optimistic and impulsive
- Enjoys company and lively parties
- Aggressive and unreliable
- Easily loses their temper
What is Eysenck's biological explanation of Etraversion?
- Extraversion is based on the part of the brain which is responsible for arousal levels
- Everybody has an optimum level of arousal which they strive to achieve
- Extraverts inherit a cortically under aroused brain causing low arousal levels
- This leads to the extravert actively seeking stimulation in order to return levels to optimum
What activities may Extraverts be drawn to?
- Highly stimulating activities with high levels of risk and danger
- Often criminal behaviour is risky and dangerous
Why may the differing brain structure of extraverts cause them to engage in criminal behaviour?
They are not easy to condition to societies rules and norms which would deter them from criminal behaviour
What characteristics are displayed by introverts?
- Reserved, quiet and cautious
- Dislike change and noisy gatherings
- Tend to keep themselves to themselves
- Reliable, unaggressive and place great value on ethical standards
How did Eysenck biologically explain Introverts?
- They are already cortically over-aroused and therefore seek far less stimulation
- This means that are far less likely to be involved in criminal behaviour
How are neurotics different than others?
They have a more active autonomic nervous system
What characteristics might a neurotic person display?
- Nervous, jumpily and anxious
- Find it difficult to cope with stress
- Emotionally unstable and unpredictable
Why are neurotic people more likely to be criminals than others?
- They are high on 'emotionality'
- Emotion acts as a drive
How are emotionally stable people different than others?
- Calm, even tempered and not easily upset by others
- Unlikely to panic when confronted with extreme stress but keep their wits about them and respond to emergencies in a productive manner
Which personality type would predispose someone to offend?
A neurotic extravert
What characteristics would be exhibited by a psychotic person?
- Cold, hostile behaviour
- Capable of cruelty and have a lack of empathy
- Eysenck suggested that these characteristics are showed by a large percentage of the criminal population, especially hardcore habitual offenders
How would Psychoticism explain criminal behaviour?
Psychotic individuals do not empathise with victims and therefore have few inhibitions about the crimes they commit
Why is Eysenck's psychoticism misleading?
It is not the same as psychoticism: being out of touch with reality
What was the aim of McGurk and McDougall's study of 1981?
To investigate the relationship between criminal behaviour and personality characteristics according to Eysenck's scale
What methods were employed by McGurk and McDougall in their 1981 study?
100 'delinquent' college students and 100 non delinquent students completed the Eysenck Personality Inventory
What were the results of the McGurk and McDougall's study of 1981?
- Significant differences were found between Psychoticism (p), Extraversion (E) and Neuroticism (N) scores
- Only the delinquent sample contained a combination of high scores on P, E and N in addition to a high E and N cluster
- The non delinquent sample contained a significant percentage of individuals with low scores on both E and N
What can be concluded from the McGurk and McDougall's study of 1981?
There may be a link between an individual's delinquent behaviour and their personality type
What did Eysenck himself find in 1977?
Criminals score more highly than the general population on scales of extraversion, neuroticism and psychoticism as measured by the EPQ
What did Digman state in 1990?
- Considering personality in terms of two dimensions is oversimplified
- He produced a 5 factor model containing consciousness and agreeableness
What did Moffitt suggest in 1993?
There are 4 distinct types of offender personality as opposed to the single one suggested by Eysenck
What criticisms are made for Eysenck's biological explanation of personality differences?
There is no evidence that there are differences is EEG measures (used to measure arousal) between Introverts and Extraverts
What criticisms are made of the comparisons of criminals to non criminals based on personality?
The control group of non criminals was not matched on relevant variables such as socio-economic class, cultural background and intelligence
What did Bartol et al find in 1979?
- Criminals are less extraverted than the control group used
- It was suggested that this was due to cultural differences as Bartol studied African-American and Hispanic groups whereas Eysenck predominately used European white criminals of property crimes
How is the universality Eysenck's theory criticised?
It claims to be universal yet cannot be generalised to other ethnic groups (Bartol) so is lacking in validity
What criticisms are made regarding Bartol's study?
- A sample of only 200 college students was used
- Although useful in highlighting differences between personality clusters of delinquents and non delinquents, it cannot be generalised to adult offender populations
What criticisms can be made about the questionnaires themselves?
Respondents may answer in a way that is considered 'socially desirable' rather than expressing their actual beliefs and views
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