Behaviourist Approach to criminal behaviour Essay

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The Behaviourist Approach to criminal behaviour
Criminal Psychology is the application of psychological principles on criminal activity. Behaviourists believe that criminals act upon behavioural antics they have learnt over time, thus criticising Freud’s analysis. Their theories tend to follow a deterministic perspective meaning we lack control of our actions. They argue that the reasons behind criminal activity are the consequences of the behaviour being favourable and pleasurable.
Classical conditioning’s the theory of learning through association by pairing a stimulus with an existing stimulus response and responding to both stimuli in a similar way. Pavlov (1849-1936) developed this theory by measuring the salivation created by his dogs before and during food being presented. Pavlov’s experiments aimed to condition dog’s behaviour through bell ringing. Pavlov identified an environmental stimulus which did not produce a behavioural response, known as the neutral stimulus (bell ringing). The unconditioned response was to the food being presented, a stimulus which produces both natural and unlearnt responses. When being conditioned the stimuli stay the same, however after conditioning there is only a conditioned stimulus and conditioned response. Pavlov found that after conditioning the bell became a conditioned stimulus, this is the term used to refer to a stimulus which has been associated with the unconditioned stimulus on its own. A learnt behaviour which is shown in response to a learnt stimulus is known as the conditioned response, this is the salivation as the dog salivates when the bell rings.
Skinner believes in operant conditioning meaning that in order to understand the behaviour of a person we must look at the cause of action and the consequences that this action brings. This is the idea of reinforcement. Skinner experimented using Skinners Box where rats were put in a box and had to push one of two levers. When one lever is pushed it will allow food to appear, however if the other is pushed the rat experiences an electric shock. Pushing the food lever causes the rat to become positively reinforced, the term used to describe something pleasurable being given after a certain action. When the rat gets an electric shock punishment is taking place. Punishment is the term used to describe how behaviour is punished through an unpleasant stimulus.
Social learning theory is the learning of behaviour through observation. Bandura (1977) believed that there were certain processes people