Psychology: Theories of Deviance and Crime

What is the first thing that you think of when you hear the term ‘deviance’? You must have heard this term casually drop in the middle of conversations. Let’s figure this out together!

Deviance in its most basic form means unacceptable behavior or the behavior that is not statistically normal – it’s when you violate the norms of society. Deviance is not something that has to be serious – it can be something as small as a traffic violation.

When you come to think of it, every society has its own set of deviances. Like, in some societies, it might be considered deviant for the female population to go out and work, whereas some societies might feel that it’s completely normal and part of the culture. Similarly, homosexuality is considered deviant in some countries, whereas some countries are now opening up and accepting differences and individuality. 

The study of deviance is essentially described as a violation of cultural norms and they can be both formal and informal. The phenomenon is quite distinct and evident in some societies. Psychology is such a fascinating field of education that it can help us understand the reasons behind such deviances. There are biological, sociological and psychological factors that are used to explain these deviances.

Another prime example of deviances is this; many societies consider crying women to be normal. It’s something that we’ve seen and so it’s expected and nothing out of the blue. However, eyebrows are raised and special comforting shoulders are extended every time a man is seen crying. It’s not like men are committing a crime in this case but this will be considered a deviant act as you don’t generally see men crying publicly.

There are special psychological theories that are used to explain the phenomenon of deviance so as to explain their motivation to violate norms. These theories use biological traits, sociological explanations and other factors that explain deviant behavior.

Below we’ve provided four crucial theories to explain deviance and crime so that you don’t have to take low cost essay writing help from online services.

Conduct Disorder

Conduct disorder is a crucial explanation for deviant disorder. This is a mental health disorder that is identified in DSM and it is diagnosed in childhood and it can be characterized by a repetitive and persistent pattern of behavior. However, the problem here is that their behavior violates the rights of those around them. This particular childhood disorder is often mistaken as an antisocial personality disorder.

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-IV, this disorder is symptomized by serious aggression and disrespectful behavior! If conduct disorder is triggered in the youth or early adolescent period, it can be misdiagnosed as antisocial behavior.

Biological screenings have revealed that when a person has a disorder, their brain fails to respond in the orbitofrontal regions of the brain. There are several neuroanatomy and neurotransmitter regulation that details the association of psychology and crime.

Psychological Trauma

Psychological theories explain the behavior and the reasoning behind actions; however, it doesn’t explain the biological consequences. Deviant behavior, in this theory, explains the trauma of the past. For example, if you had a stressful and traumatic past, you could’ve developed PTSD and so your reactions to normal circumstances might be different than others. Traumatic past includes child abuse, war history, and exposure to domestic violence, etc.

Problems with Psychological Theories of Deviance

In normal circumstances, deviant behavior is the one that can be explained via psychiatric diagnosis. However, there are certain illnesses that are no longer part of the DSM but they’re still considered deviant. In addition, all of it depends on the time period and era.

Like, back in the day, homosexuality was a problem and considered deviant behavior, but in many communities, it’s not considered deviant behavior. Due to this reason, it has also been removed from DSM. What we mean here is that the psychological theory of deviances can fluctuate.

Labelling Theory

Another theory that explains deviance is known as the labelling theory. This theory explains the idea that individuals choose deviance whenever they’re told or highlighted of such behavior. Like, if you tell them that they are robbers, they might, out of spite, do it again. When you start identifying someone as deviant, they start following the stigmatized identity – almost like owning the label.

This theory helps us understand how certain labels dictate future behavior. If you treat and call someone a robber repeatedly, there will be a time when they become immune to it and start following it up with actions.

These theories are provided by qualified psychologists; they determine the cause behind the action. In the end, it must be realized that all of these theories are there to guide us through the concept of deviance.

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