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Theories of the Criminal Mind

The development of the criminal behavior may occur under the impact of multiple factors. However, existing theories attempting to explain the essence of crime and criminal behavior fail to provide the adequate and undisputable explanation of causes of crime and criminal behavior, whereas factors influencing criminal behavior can vary consistently. In this regard, it is possible to refer to the Social Learning, Psychodynamic and Classed Based Sociological Theory, Social Location, Social Reaction, and Inequality. These theories suggest their own view on the causes of crime and factors determining the criminal behavior but their view vary and often come into clashes with other theories as well as each other. Nevertheless, studying these theories can help to understand better the essence of crime and factors that may influence the criminal behavior of individuals.

First of all, it is worth mentioning the fact that the Social Learning theory, also known as Labeling theory, stands on the ground that the criminal behavior is acquired in the course of the development of an individual under the impact of external factors, such as the social environment of the individual, and internal factors, such as learning abilities and vulnerability of the individual to external influences. In fact, the Social Learning theory stresses that an individual learns in the course of his or her life and through learning acquires different patterns of social behavior. In such a way, the criminal behavior is also learned by an individual from his or her social environment. An individual learns different patterns of behavior and criminal behavior is just one of the patterns. In such a way, the criminal behavior is shaped under the impact of the learning of an individual, his or her experience and environment.

Furthermore, the Psychodynamic and Classed Based Sociological Theory also stresses the impact of the social environment on an individual and his or her criminal behavior. However, unlike the Social Learning theory, the Psychodynamic and Classed Based Sociological theory focuses on the social relations but not learning of an individual as the crucial factor that determines his or her criminal behavior. To put it more precisely, the Psychodynamic and Classed Based theory holds the premise that the criminal behavior is determined by the difference in the social standing of individuals that provokes wide gaps between upper and lower classes, which individuals attempt to close through the criminal behavior under the impact of their personal ambitions and basic needs, such as the need of food.

Finally the Social Location, Social Reaction, and Inequality theory maintains the general premise common to the two aforementioned theories that the criminal behavior of an individual is influenced by his or her social environment and social factors. However, the Social Location, Social Reaction, and Inequality theory stands on the ground that the criminal behavior is the sheer result of the social inequality and people attempt to gain equality through criminal behavior.

Thus, taking into account all above mentioned, it is important to place emphasis on the fact that the criminal behavior of individuals can be determined by multiple factors. The theories discussed above reveal the fact that the criminal behavior is the result of the close interaction between an individual and his or her social environment, which provides patterns of behavior an individual acquires or which he or she wants to change through criminal behavior.
References:

Hayward, K. J. (2004). City Limits: Crime, Consumerism and the Urban Experience. New York: Routledge,
Siegel, L. J. (2003). Criminology, 8th edition. New York: Thomson-Wadsworth