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NCJ Number: 136087 Find in a Library
Title: Understanding Motivations: Considering Altruism and Aggression (From Facts, Frameworks, and Forecasts: Advances in Criminological Theory, V 3, P 115-135, 1992, Joan McCord, ed. -- See NCJ-136081)
Author(s): J McCord
Date Published: 1992
Page Count: 21
Sponsoring Agency: Transaction Publishers
Piscataway, NJ 08854
Sale Source: Transaction Publishers
Rutgers-the State University
140 West Ethel Road
Units L-M
Piscataway, NJ 08854
United States of America
Type: Research (Applied/Empirical)
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This chapter reports on a longitudinal study of the relationships of aggression and altruism to criminal behavior.
Abstract: In 1936 and 1937, approximately 200 teachers completed "trait record" cards on 468 male students who lived in blighted areas of Cambridge and Somerville, Mass. The boys ranged in age from 4 to 9. Boys were considered aggressive if their teachers checked "fights" as part of their description (95). They were considered conduct disordered if their teachers checked more than three of 11 possible problem traits or behaviors. In 1948, police records were searched for evidence of criminal behavior among those in the sample. In 1978 when the average age of the subjects was 50 years, records were collected from the courts, mental hospitals, vital statistics, and clinics for alcoholics. Criminal records were used to classify the men on a scale of seriousness for their criminal histories. Findings show that boys who were rated as aggressive in primary grades were more likely than other boys to be convicted for crimes against persons. Subjects were retraced between 1975 and 1980; all but 4 percent were located. They completed a questionnaire and were interviewed to determine whether or not they were altruistic. A majority of the men (60.2 percent) were classified as altruistic. This proportion composed 66.4 percent of the noncriminals, 64.4 percent of those convicted only for minor crimes, but only 49.1 percent of those convicted for crimes against persons. Neither aggressiveness nor conduct disorder was reliably related to a lack of altruism. The study thus links early aggressiveness to later violent crimes, and it indicates that although egocentric behavior (represented by property crimes) is not conducive to altruism, altruism is not merely the inverse of aggression. 2 tables and 118 footnotes
Main Term(s): Crime causes theory
Index Term(s): Aggression; Behavioral objectives; Longitudinal studies
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