Here are some example answers to the longer written Paper 3 questions on Forensic Psychology in the 2019 AQA exams.
Two sets of different images should be used – one before taking part in the anger management session and the other set afterwards. The two sets should be matched for negative content. This would reduce the impact of demand characteristics as the study uses a repeated measures design. If the participants saw the same images after taking part in the anger management session, they might assess them more negatively because that is what they thought the psychologist wanted them to do.
Differential association theory (DAT) was proposed by Sutherland who suggested that offending is learned through the socialisation process. Pro-criminal attitudes will be learned through association with significant others such as family and peers. In the example, whole families show deviant behaviour so sons and grandsons would have learned their pro-criminal attitudes from family members. DAT also suggests it should be possible to mathematically predict how likely it is that a person will commit crime if there is knowledge of the frequency, intensity and duration of exposure to deviant and non-deviant acts. This is probably why the researchers have studied the frequency of offending.
DAT also states that offending techniques are passed on to one generation to the next. In the example the researchers found that sons and grandsons of offenders often carried out similar crimes. For example, a son may have learned how to break into a house from his father.
DAT also states that the expectations of those around us reinforce our behaviours, values and attitudes. Therefore, friends and neighbours saying that they thought offending was a good way to behave would have reinforced the pro-criminal attitudes and the criminal behaviour, increasing their frequency.
Official statistics are compiled by the Home Office and published annually. They consist of all crimes reported to the police. A strength is that they enable understanding of crime patterns over time and allow the government to develop crime prevention strategies.
However, a limitation is that they underestimate the true number of crimes as many (known as the ‘dark figure of crime’) are not reported to the police. Some criminologists estimate only about 25% of crimes are included in the official statistics. Reliability is also an issue as different police forces have different recording rules. For example, one study found police in Nottinghamshire were more likely to record thefts of less than £10 than police in other counties.
Victim surveys such as ‘The Crime Survey for England and Wales’ record people’s experience of crime over a specific period. For this survey, 50,000 households are randomly selected to take part. A strength of victim surveys is that they are more likely to include details of crimes not reported to the police, so may be more accurate. However, they rely on victims being able to accurately recall the crimes and ‘telescoping’ may occur, where people recall crimes that happened longer ago, distorting the figures. There are also some crimes that do not have specific victims e.g corporate crimes and these would not be included in the figures. A further problem is that households are selected through random sampling, but people not on the royal mail list of addresses (e.g. the homeless) cannot be selected even though they are perhaps more likely to be a victim of crime.
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