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The following report highlights various psychological perspectives by assessing the similarities and differences between these psychological perspectives. In addition, identification of how these perspectives influence human behaviour is also provided in the report. The report also outlines how the psychological perspectives mentioned are relevant to different public services. Moreover, one psychological theory of criminal behaviour is investigated in the report, which in-depth explains criminal conduct. Furthermore, this theory is also used to bridge the gap between trauma and how it sometimes inspires criminal behaviour. Also, factors like social behaviour, judicial systems, and discrimination are explained in detail, relating them to how they influence human behaviour in general. Additionally, trauma-informed practices are elaborated on in the report. The judicial system follows the trauma-informed practice to recognise and comprehend the influence a specific trauma has on offenders and how it decides their course of action. It is a practice that focuses on improving the offender's life after they have already committed a crime. Instead of putting the blame and re-traumatising them, it allows them to embed new skills. The Ministry of Justice in the UK has recently taken various initiatives to introduce a trauma-based practice within the various justice agencies of the country. The report highlights one such trauma-informed practice, explaining in detail how it functions and the level of its effectiveness among the offenders in the country. In addition to this, the report also focuses on how assessing criminals' psychology can reduce the crime rate in the country.
What is Psychology, and why is it important-
Psychology is a branch of science that deals with the analysis and evaluation of the human mind and behaviour. It in-depth identifies the various factors that affect how a specific person thinks, acts, and feels about things. These factors include biological influences of the family they belong to, pressures put on them by society, and factors of their environment (Bandura, 2018). Psychology helps treat people with various mental issues and provides a deep insight into what goes on in a person's mind (Ahern, 2018). This also helps in understanding how the minds of criminals work and what leads them towards such behaviour.
Various psychological theories help to determine the human mind and behaviour.
How trauma influences behaviour according to behaviourism-
Behaviourists believe that a normal person can be trained to conduct any task or objective. It does not depend on the inherent background, character traits, and thoughts that the person has internally. If trained with the right conditioning and changing the environment of that person accordingly, they can be asked to perform anything, and they will. This also reflects how trauma influences human behaviour. For illustration, if a child faces any severe trauma, it is very likely that he will be influenced by that phase, and it will have an impact on his mental state (Smith, 2020). Grave mental illnesses like depression and PTSD are all outcomes of the trauma faced during a particular time in a person's life which changes the environment they live in and further influences their behaviour (ncbi, 2014).
How trauma influences behaviour according to the cognitive theory-
The cognitive theory believes that a human mind operates similarly to a computer brain. The human brain also processes information as computers do. For illustration, in a computer, the information is first encoded, then stored, and finally retrieved after evaluation. Likewise, the human brain stores information about trauma. First, the events of the trauma that the person is facing are encoded in their mind; then it is stored for a long time which affects their behaviour and disturbs them constantly, and then finally, after keeping that information for such a long time, the brain responds in a way which is sometimes not adequate, it produces behaviour which can be violent (McLeod, 2013).
The behaviour and cognitive perspective of psychology both help to determine the human mind and behaviour. They are both measured as learning theories which are because they both emphasise the behaviour of humans that are already acquired (Brown, 2022). Human behaviour is something that is acquired and brought into habit through a particular course of time, and both these perspectives help to determine how behaviour is acquired by a person and then reinforced or diminished with time depending on various factors. Both of these perspectives of psychology have been introduced relatively recently in psychology. Behaviourism emerged in the early twentieth century as a response to depth psychology. At the same time, the social cognitive theory was introduced in 1970 as a reaction to behaviourism that was traditional. These theories are equally important in comprehending human psychology and for the betterment of society.
The major dissimilarity between both lies within their definition. The cognitive theory refers to the acquiring of human behaviour through observation. They observe the behaviour of others and the external environment and analyse them through their cognitive factors, which leads them to adopt a new behaviour. In contrast to this, behaviourism is a psychological theory that states that any behaviour of a person is an outcome of the stimulus and response which that person gives while facing a particular situation (Hasa, 2020). Behavirousim also states that people acquire behaviour through conditioning methods like classical or operant.
Self-efficacy, triadic-reciprocal determinism, and cognitivism are all focused on in cognitive theory. Dissimilarly, stimulus-response behaviour, as well as classical and operant conditioning, are emphasised in behaviourism (Braat et al., 2020). The cognitive theory explains human behaviour as the output of various things that the person has faced throughout his entire life and how every event has contributed to the behaviour that he displays. Whereas behaviourism explains that any specific behaviour of a person is an output of the environment he lives in and the conditioning he has been provided.
Criminology or criminal conduct can be explained through the glasses of psychology using various psychological perspectives like behaviourism, cognitive theory, or psychodynamic theory. The most prominent one that can elaborate on the gap between trauma and criminal behaviour that becomes an output of it is the psychodynamic theory.
Sigmund Freud proposed the psychodynamic theory in which he detailed his concept of the instinctual drive (id) that everyone has, the ethical and moral codes (superego) that help in regulating these drives in a person, and a practical personality (ego) that people develop over time which lies between the superego and id (McLeod, 2020). His idea represents that a person relies on criminal activity when the superego factor in his life fails to act adequately. People are often seen conflicting between their id, ego, and superego when their behaviour is observed. Delinquency and criminal behaviour are majorly the outcomes of this conflict.
Various crime theories help in explaining crime causation. The strain theory reflects that when society puts too much pressure on a person, they tend to take the reliance on committing a crime to overcome the strain (Posick, 2018). The person facing this kind of strain normally has an antisocial personality disorder which is a mere outcome of behaviour like drinking heavily, taking drugs, driving recklessly, facing educational and employment problems, and adversities in personal relationships (jrank, 2022). The person is said to be in trauma when all these factors are included in his life for a long period. This forces the person to instil various behavioural manifestations in life, which majorly results in committing a crime.
The social learning theory explains that people often get involved in crime because of the type of association with others. The type of relationship they have with people around them determines the factors that reinforce them for various criminal activities, including beliefs that are in support of the crime and the ways they could conduct it. This allows them to justify their actions through the means of their associations. The relationship that plays a major role in this is the intimate one which is family. There is a major significance of broken relationships and unloving parents on delinquencies (bbc, 2022). The substantial trauma that has been observed to force maximum criminals to commit an act of violence is because of anger aroused due to parental punishments, fights among both the parents, sexual abuse by a close family member, or confrontations with partners. Also, events like losing a close family member bring out a surge of emotions in people, which sometimes force them to act against the reason for their death. Reports have suggested that 52% of offenders are primarily from a background in which some factors involve broken home conflicts for various reasons.
The Psychodynamic theory directly suggests that the personality of a person is rationally or irrationally controlled by the mental and psychological processes that are usually unconscious and instilled within the person's mind because of a trauma. A person is born with instinctual or unconscious drives (id), like the drive for sex, food, and other necessities (Wikström et al., 2018). The id is what allows the person to act variably to receive instant gratification without caring much for others’ well-being. This plays a major role in understanding criminal behaviour. The ego of a person is the second component of personality which develops early in life. Ego and id are directly connected since if the person does not receive instant gratification, they allow their ego to act. Superego comes in when children are incorporated into society, allowing them to interact. It is related to the values and standards society has set for the person. If the superego tends to fail, the strain theory acts and people are pulled down by various accusations of the society for not following its values and ethical codes. This trauma forces the person to neglect the ego and allows the id to function, the consequences of which are majorly criminal activities.
Also, if the person in early childhood was unfortunate, unhappy, or inattentive, the person will grow out to be irritated and aggravated due to the trauma. The criminals with these events are perpetually drawn back to their childhood events (Smith, 2018). It does not let the ego of the person get strong, which is due to immaturity, lack of social ethics, and in turn, dependence on others (Nancy Wolff and Jing Shi, 2012). Individuals who have developed weak egos tend to act on their id, which forces them to commit acts for their gratification and not for others’ well-being; they choose the wrong way to commit horrendous crimes due to their weak mental stability.
Trauma-informed practice is a practice that in a way supports redemption for offenders by helping them to comprehend adequately why they chose the path of committing crimes and providing them with a way of improving their behaviour. Behind any crime, there is always a major role of experiences that are developed over time during the life of the offender. Understanding this has become essential in today’s world where almost 80% of all offenders in the world are traumatized due to various events that took place in their lives. Trauma-informed practice is not a practice which focuses on victimizing the offenders and proving that the victim’s experiences were not brutal (Knight, 2019). Some people even believe that trauma-informed practice is sympathizing with the offender in front of the world. Instead, it is an approach that focuses on the events that lead the offender to commit such an act of violence.
By looking at it this way, the adversities faced by the offender during childhood, trauma caused because of that, and the involvement of the offender in the justice system being a consequence of that can be found out. People who have faced more than two or three adverse childhood experiences, commonly known as ACE, are more likely to commit a crime because of their disrupted mental state than someone who has not been traumatized by anything. As proven by the psychodynamic theory, Risk-taking and committing a crime during adulthood are mostly caused due to prolonged pressure and stress during childhood. Thus, it becomes essential to introduce practices which will help in understanding the background of an offender for providing them with the chance to not get re-traumatized again by blaming and sanctioning them throughout, but by finding ways to identify their strengths and skills, building confidence, and re-educating them to regulate their behaviour.
Trauma-informed practice implemented in the criminal justice system of the UK-
Managing the youth of the country who are at risk: The initialization of criminal activities begins in the youth of any country. It is the reason why the United Kingdom justice system has focused on finding ways to identify the risks that the youth of the country are facing, and ways to mitigate those risks by providing essential support so that it does not allow them to become an offender in the future.
Doing all these has ensured that those who think they have been traumatized feel safe and secure so that they do not turn to violence for self-protection. These methods have proved to be effective for the country since it is always necessary to include all-inclusive, helpful, and adequate social-emotional intercessions in the earlier stages of life to prevent the impact of ACEs and trauma in the later part during which they may choose to commit an act of violence. For illustration, if a child who has been sexually abused is identified by the judicial system in the early stage of his life and included in organisations that help in overcoming such traumatic experiences, likely, the child will ultimately forget the horrendous crime and improve in his life by focusing on his strengths and skills to become a better person. If this did not happen, the child would have relied on addiction to forget about the crime and eventually fall into the hands of the wrong company which might have conditioned him to commit a crime for various purposes.
The above-conducted report in-depth analyses different psychological perspectives along with the major influence they have on human behaviour and action. The behaviour school of thought and the cognitive perspective are detailed in the report. With the assistance of these two perspectives, how human behaviour can be analysed and studied in detail is elaborated on in the report. By comparing both perspectives, various similarities and dissimilarities can be displayed, which reflects the prominent picture of how important it is to analyse these theories to make society a better place and reduce crime rates by comprehending the minds of criminals. In addition, the psychodynamic theory, which plays a major role in deeply understanding what goes in the mind of a criminal, is discussed in the report. Many factors and influences that cause criminology are discussed with the assistance of two theories of crime that are the strain theory and the social learning theory. Discussing these factors and theories has concluded how the criminal acts can be linked to trauma experienced by the offender during childhood or adulthood. Freud's concepts of id, ego, and superego are related to understanding how trauma in peoples' life can allow them to become a criminal in the future. Furthermore, a trauma-informed practice that has been introduced in the UK justice system is shed light upon, explaining how it works and the effects it has shown in reducing the reoffending rates in offenders. Also, the future of crime rates in the country depends on the success of this trauma-informed practice; this has also been elaborated on in the report.
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Books and Journals
Ahern, K.R., (2018). The importance of psychology in economic activity: Evidence from terrorist attacks (No. w24331). National Bureau of Economic Research.
Bandura, A., (2018). Toward a psychology of human agency: Pathways and reflections. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 13(2), pp.130-136.
Braat, M., Engelen, J., van Gemert, T. and Verhaegh, S., (2020). The rise and fall of behaviorism: The narrative and the numbers. History of Psychology, 23(3), p.252.
Posick, C. and Rocque, M., (2018). Great debates in criminology. Routledge.
Sanborn, F.W. and Harris, R.J., (2019). A cognitive psychology of mass communication. Routledge.
Smith, J., (2018). Application of Investigative Psychology to Psychodynamic and Human Development Theories: Examining Traits and Typologies of Serial Killers (Doctoral dissertation, California Baptist University).
Smith, R., (2020). Behaviourism. In Companion to the History of Modern Science (pp. 410-424). Routledge.
Knight, C., (2019). Trauma informed practice and care: Implications for field instruction. Clinical Social Work Journal, 47(1), pp.79-89.
Wikström, P.O.H., Mann, R.P. and Hardie, B., (2018). Young people’s differential vulnerability to criminogenic exposure: Bridging the gap between people-and place-oriented approaches in the study of crime causation. European journal of criminology, 15(1), pp.10-31.
bbc, (2022). Causes and theories of crime. [Online]
Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/guides/zdwwt39/revision/3
Brown, G., (2022). Difference Between Social Cognitive Theory and Behaviorism. [Online]
Available at: http://www.differencebetween.net/science/difference-between-social-cognitive-theory-and-behaviorism/
Hasa, (2020). Difference Between Behavioral and Cognitive Learning Theories. [Online]
Available at: https://pediaa.com/difference-between-behavioral-and-cognitive-learning-theories/
jrank, (2022). Crime Causation: Sociological Theories. [Online]
Available at: https://law.jrank.org/pages/814/Crime-Causation-Sociological-Theories-Strain-theory.html
Masundire, C., (2019). Can trauma informed practice transform the criminal justice system?. [Online]
Available at: https://rocketsciencelab.co.uk/2019/07/can-trauma-informed-practice-transform-the-criminal-justice-system/
McLeod, D. S., (2013). Psychology Perspectives. [Online]
McLeod, S., (2020). The Psychodynamic Approach. [Online]
Available at: https://www.simplypsychology.org/psychodynamic.html
Nancy Wolff and Jing Shi, (2012). Childhood and Adult Trauma Experiences of Incarcerated Persons and Their Relationship to Adult Behavioral Health Problems and Treatment. [Online]
Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3386595/
ncbi, (2014). Understanding the Impact of Trauma. [Online]
Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK207191/
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