Can’t say ‘no’? Crime may attract you

May 12th, 2008 - 2:57 pm ICT by admin  

Sydney, May 12 (IANS) Criminals often can’t say no. That’s the conclusion of an in-depth study that seeks the link between self-control and crime. The study, which integrates theories from criminology and psychology, compared the level of self-control, motivation and criminal intentions between students and prison inmates, ScienceAlert reported Monday.

Mei Williams, who conducted the study, said the little-understood relationship between self-control and criminal activity could suggest possibilities for the treatment and prevention of criminal behaviour.

“While criminologists have found low self-control to be one of the strongest risk factors for crime, its lack of explanatory power has been a major concern,” she said.

In the study, students and prison inmates were asked about their criminal activity over the previous 12 months, the opportunities that would encourage or prevent criminal involvement, attitudes towards crime, the expectations of “significant others”, and the person’s confidence and control over their behaviour should they wish to commit a crime.

Low self-control featured more strongly as an explanation for intentions to commit crime for prison inmates than it did for students.

While self-control was an important aspect, of even greater significance for both groups was the role of significant others.

This was especially related to the expectations of “significant others”, and the willingness of the individual to comply with those expectations. This factor appeared to be crucial as to whether a person with low self-control got involved in crime or not.

Rehabilitation programmes that help inmates develop better self-control through self-management techniques and by ensuring there are “significant others” who are positive role models would have a powerful way of countering not only crime but other detrimental behaviours, such as aggression and general delinquency.

According to Williams, prison inmates were no different to law-abiding citizens in that they shared the same goal of getting money and wanting to look after their family, but they had different values and behavioural patterns when it came to achieving these goals.

“They need to learn pro-social values, such as how to achieve their goals without hurting other people.”

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