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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 66682 Find in a Library
Title: SPECIAL DETERRENCE - AN OPERANT LEARNING EVALUATION
Journal: LAW AND HUMAN BEHAVIOR  Volume:3  Issue:3  Dated:(1979)  Pages:203-215
Author(s): G CAVENDER
Corporate Author: Plenum Publishing Corp
United States of America
Date Published: 1980
Page Count: 13
Sponsoring Agency: Plenum Publishing Corp
New York, NY 10013-1576
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: DETERRENCE, A PSYCHOLOGICAL CONCEPT, SHOULD BE EVALUATED USING PSYCHOLOGICAL CRITERIA. OPERANT LEARNING THEORY IS PARTICULARLY APPROPRIATE, BUT ITS LITERATURE CASTS DOUBT ON THE ABILITY OF PUNISHMENT TO DETER.
Abstract: THE SIMILARITY BETWEEN DETERRENCE THEORY AND OPERANT LEARNING THEORY HAS BEEN EITHER DISMISSED OR OVERLOOKED BY CRIMINOLOGISTS FOR SEVERAL REASONS. OPERANT LEARNING THEORY HAS BEEN TESTED MOSTLY IN LABORATORIES, FOR ONE. ALSO, SKINNER, WHO POPULARIZED OPERANT LEARNING THEORY, REJECTS THE USEFULNESS OF PUNISHMENT IN CONTROLLING BEHAVIOR. FINALLY, DETERRENCE THEORY ASSUMES A RATIONAL MODEL OF BEHAVIOR NOT ASSUMED IN OPERANT LEARNING THEORY. STILL BOTH ARE ESSENTIALLY BEHAVIOR THEORIES, BOTH RELY ON THE PLEASURE-PAIN PRINCIPLE, AND VARIABLES THAT COMPRISE THE BEHAVIOR EQUATIONS FOR BOTH ARE SIMILAR, AS IS THEIR EMPHASIS ON INTERACTIONS AMONG VARIABLES (EG., TIME LAG BETWEEN BEHAVIOR AND PUNISHMENT, SEVERITY OF PUNISHMENT, CERTAINTY OF PUNISHMENT). AZRIN AND HOLZ DEVELOPED 12 CRITERIA FOR EFFECTIVE PUNISHMENT THAT CAN BE USED TO EVALUATE THE DETERRENCE EFFECTIVENESS OF PUNISHMENT, GIVEN THE SIMILARITIES BETWEEN OPERANT LEARNING THEORY AND DETERRENCE. THEY ARE IMPOSSIBILITY OF ESCAPE FROM PUNISHMENT, (2) INTENSE PUNISHMENT, (3) PUNISHMENT FOR EACH RESPONSE, (4) IMMEDIATE PUNISHMENT, (5) INTRODUCTION OF PUNISHMENT AT MAXIMUM INTENSITY, (6) AVOIDANCE OF EXTENDED PUNISHMENT PERIODS, (7) AVOIDING AN ASSOCIATION BETWEEN PUNISHMENT AND REINFORCEMENT, (8) PUNISHMENT AS A SIGNAL FOR EXTINCTION, (9) REDUCTION OF MOTIVATION TO DO THE UNDESIRED ACT, (10) NO REINFORCEMENT OF UNDESIRED ACT, (11) PROVISION OF REINFORCEABLE ALTERNATIVES TO THE UNDESIRED ACT AND (12) ACCESS TO DIFFERENT SITUATIONS, PROVIDING SIMILAR REINFORCEMENT. THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM FAILS TO FULFILL THESE CRITERIA WHEN DEALING WITH OFFENDERS. FOR EXAMPLE, ESCAPE FROM APPREHENSION IS POSSIBLE AND THE SANCTIONS MAY BE REDUCED, THUS VIOLATING CRITERIA 1 AND 3. ALTHOUGH THE USEFULNESS OF THESE PSYCHOLOGICAL CRITERIA IN EVALUATING CRIMINAL SANCTIONS' EFFECTIVENESS IS LIMITED, THE PRESENT EVALUATION PROVIDES AN IMPORTANT CAVEAT FOR THE DETERRENCE ISSUE. FUTURE RESEARCH SHOULD DETERMINE WHY DETERRENCE IS SUCH AN ENTICING PHILOSOPHY, SINCE IT IS BASED ON THE QUESTIONABLE ASSUMPTION THAT CURRENT CRIMINAL PENALTIES ARE EFFECTIVE. A TABLE AND A REFERENCE LIST ARE INCLUDED. (CFW)
Index Term(s): Behavior modification; Deterrence; Deterrence effectiveness; Psychological theories; Punishment
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http://www.ncjrs.gov/App/publications/abstract.aspx?ID=66682

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