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NCJ Number: 57177 Add to Shopping cart Find in a Library
Title: CRIME, COGNITION, AND THE AUTONOMIC NERVOUS SYSTEM (FROM NEBRASKA SYMPOSIUM ON MOTIVATION, 1964, BY DAVID LEVINE)
Author(s): S SCHACHTER; B LATANE
Corporate Author: University of Nebraska Press
United States of America
Date Published: 1964
Page Count: 53
Sponsoring Agency: National Science Foundation
Arlington, VA 22230
University of Nebraska Press
Lincoln, NE 68588-0484
US Dept of Health, Education, and Welfare
Rockville, MD 20857
Grant Number: G-23758; MH-05203
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Document
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: TWO EXPERIMENTS DESIGNED TO TEST THE NOTION THAT ANTISOCIAL BEHAVIOR CAN BE MANIPULATED BY INTRODUCING DRUGS THAT EITHER BLOCK OR MIMIC THE ACTION OF THE AUTONOMIC NERVOUS SYSTEM ARE REPORTED.
Abstract: IT HAS BEEN SHOWN EXPERIMENTALLY THAT FEAR AND OTHER EMOTIONS CAN BE MANIPULATED IN HUMANS AND ANIMALS BY MANIPULATING PHYSIOLOGICAL AROUSAL, A STATE CONTROLLED BY THE AUTONOMIC NERVOUS SYSTEM. IT FOLLOWS THAT, GIVEN THE EXISTENCE OF A CRIMINAL IMPULSE AND OF RESTRAINING, FEAR-INDUCING CONDITIONS, THE LIKELIHOOD THAT CRIMINAL BEHAVIOR WILL OCCUR CAN BE MANIPULATED BY INTRODUCING DRUGS THAT AFFECT THE AUTONOMIC NERVOUS SYSTEM. IN ONE EXPERIMENT, COLLEGE STUDENTS WERE GIVEN AN OPPORTUNITY TO CHEAT ON A TEST. SUBJECTS WHO HAD TAKEN AND RESPONDED TO A MILD BLOCKING AGENT CALLED CHLORPROMAZINE WERE TWICE AS LIKELY TO CHEAT AS SUBJECTS WHO TOOK A PLACEBO. THERE WAS NO SIGNIFICANT DIFFERENCE IN CHEATING BEHAVIOR BETWEEN PLACEBO SUBJECTS AND SUBJECTS WHO TOOK BUT DID NOT RESPOND TO CHLORPROMAZINE. THESE FINDINGS SHOW THAT EVEN A WEAK SYMPATHALYTIC (BLOCKING) AGENT, WHICH HAS BEEN SHOWN TO REDUCE FEAR IN ANIMALS, FACILITATES CHEATING IN HUMANS. IN A SECOND EXPERIMENT, THE EFFECTS OF A DRUG (EPINEPHRINE, OR ADRENALIN) THAT MIMICS THE EFFECTS OF THE AUTONOMIC NERVOUS SYSTEM WERE COMPARED IN SOCIOPATHIC AND NONSOCIOPATHIC INMATES. WITHOUT THE DRUG, SOCIOPATHS AND NONSOCIOPATHS WERE EQUALLY ABLE TO LEARN POSITIVELY REINFORCED, NONEMOTIONAL TASKS, BUT SOCIOPATHS FOUND IT DIFFICULT TO LEARN TO AVOID PAIN. WHEN INJECTED WITH EPINEPHRINE, SOCIOPATHS SHOWED MARKED IMPROVEMENT IN AVOIDANCE LEARNING WHILE NONSOCIOPATHS DID NOT. UNEXPECTEDLY, SOCIOPATHS WERE MORE AUTONOMICALLY RESPONSIVE TO STRESSFUL STIMULI AND APPARENTLY MORE SENSITIVE TO ADRENALIN THAN WERE NONSOCIOPATHS. OTHER STUDIES HAVE SHOWN THAT PHYSIOLOGICAL AROUSAL IS NOT NECESSARILY ASSOCIATED WITH AN EMOTIONAL STATE; COGNITIVE AND SITUATIONAL FACTORS DETERMINE WHETHER A PERSON LABELS AROUSAL AS EMOTION. THE FINDINGS ON SOCIOPATHS SUGGEST THAT THEIR APPARENT EMOTIONAL FLATNESS REFLECTS A STATE OF NEARLY CONSTANT, RATHER THAN RARE, AROUSAL. SOCIOPATHS MAY REACT AUTONOMICALLY TO VIRTUALLY EVERY SITUATION BUT INTERPRET THEIR AROUSAL AS EMOTION ONLY IN EXTREME CIRCUMSTANCES. THE ADDITIONAL FINDING THAT SOCIOPATHS WERE INVOLVED IN LESS PASSION-LADEN OFFENSES THAN NONSOCIOPATHS OFFERS FURTHER EVIDENCE OF HOW PHYSIOLOGICAL AROUSAL, COGNITIVE FACTORS, AND CRIMINAL BEHAVIOR INTERACT. SUPPORTING DATA AND A LIST OF REFERENCES ARE INCLUDED. (LKM)
Index Term(s): Biological influences; Crime Causes; Nonbehavioral correlates of crime; Sociopaths; Studies
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http://www.ncjrs.gov/App/publications/abstract.aspx?ID=57177

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