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NCJ Number: 67461 Find in a Library
Title: BALANCE THEORY AND CRIMINOLOGY
Journal: TIJDSCHRIFT VOOR CRIMINOLOGIE  Dated:(NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 1979)  Pages:274-284
Author(s): H STEENSMA
Corporate Author: Gasgracht 10, Pob 58
Boom-Pers Boeken-En
Tijdschriftenuitgeverij, Bv
Netherlands
Date Published: 1979
Page Count: 11
Format: Article
Language: Dutch
Country: Netherlands
Annotation: THE BALANCE THEORY OF HEIDER IS EXPLAINED AND APPLIED TO SUCH CRIMINOLOGICAL PROBLEMS AS IDENTIFICATION AND PUNISHMENT OF OFFENDERS.
Abstract: ACCORDING TO HEIDER'S BALANCE OR 'P-O-X' THEORY, ONE PERSON (P) HAS PERCEPTIONS ABOUT ANOTHER PERSON (O) AND ABOUT (X), WHICH MAY BE AN IMPERSONAL OBJECT OR A THIRD PERSON RELATED IN ANOTHER MANNER TO P AND O. IN THIS SYSTEM, TWO TYPES OF RELATIONSHIPS ARE POSSIBLE BETWEEN THE ELEMENTS, UNIT RELATIONSHIPS IN WHICH TWO OR MORE ELEMENTS BELONG TOGETHER AND SENTIMENT RELATIONSHIPS WHICH MEASURE A PERSON'S ASSESSMENT OF SOMETHING. WHEN ALL THE COGNITIVE ELEMENTS ARE IN HARMONY, THE TRIAD IS BALANCED; WHEN ONE OF THE RELATIONSHIPS IS NEGATIVE, THE SITUATION IS UNBALANCED; IF ALL ELEMENTS ARE NEGATIVE, THEIR RELATIONSHIPS ARE AMBIGUOUS. UNBALANCED SITUATIONS TEND TOWARD BALANCE, LEADING TO CHANGES IN THE RELATIONSHIPS. THIS ARTICLE CONTENDS THAT CERTAIN INDIVIDUALS DEAL WITH COGNITIVE INCONSISTENCIES BETTER THAN OTHERS AND THAT THERE ARE DEGREES OF POSITIVE AND NEGATIVE RELATIONSHIPS. IN APPLICATION, A PERSON IS UNLIKELY TO BELIEVE THAT A SECOND PERSON TOWARDS WHOM HE HAS A FAVORABLE OPINION HAS COMMITTED A REPREHENSIBLE OFFENSE. HOWEVER, IF THE OPINION OF THAT PERSON IS NEGATIVE, THE PERSON WILL BELIEVE THE SECOND PERSON TO BE CAPABLE OF THE OFFENSE. THE SAME PRINCIPLE APPLIES IF THE PERSON HAS A POSITIVE/NEGATIVE ATTITUDE TOWARD THE SECOND PERSON'S PHYSICAL BEAUTY. FURTHERMORE, THE MORE POSITIVE THE ATTITUDE TOWARD THE SECOND PERSON THE GREATER IS THE TENDENCY OF THE FIRST PERSON TO LESSEN DISAPPROVAL OF THE OFFENSE. AS A CONSEQUENCE, AN ATTRACTIVE OFFENDER IS LIKELY TO GET A LIGHTER SENTENCE THAN AN UNATTRACTIVE OFFENDER, AND THE MORE BEAUTIFUL THE OFFENDER, THE MILDER THE SENTENCE. LIKEWISE NEGATIVELY PERCEIVED OFFENDERS ARE MORE LIKELY TO RECEIVE MORE SEVERE SENTENCES THAN POSITIVELY VIEWED OFFENDERS. FINALLY, INDIVIDUALS FROM ATTRACTIVE/UNATTRACTIVE GROUPS ARE LIKELY TO BE VIEWED POSITIVELY/NEGATIVELY. IF THE PERSON 'P' HAS A POSITIVE/NEGATIVE OPINION OF A GROUP MEMBER, HE WILL BE LIKELY TO JUDGE THE WHOLE GROUP POSITIVELY/NEGATIVELY. THE MORE POSITIVE/NEGATIVE A PERSON'S VIEW OF THE INDIVIDUAL GROUP MEMBER, THE MORE POSITIVE/NEGATIVE HIS VIEW OF THE GROUP. CRIMINAL OFFENSES COMMITTED BY A POSITIVELY PERCEIVED GROUP ARE JUDGED LESS SERIOUS THAN THE SAME OFFENSES COMMITTED BY NEGATIVELY ASSESSED GROUPS. THE MORE POSITIVE THE FIRST GROUP IS ASSESSED AND THE MORE NEGATIVE THE SECOND, THE GREATER THE DIFFERENCE WILL BE IN THE EVALUATION OF OFFENSES COMMITTED BY THE GROUPS AND THE GREATER THE DIFFERENCE WILL BE IN THE SENTENCES IMPOSED FOR OFFENSES COMMITTED BY OFFENDERS OF THE TWO GROUPS. AS IS EVIDENT, MANY CRIMINOLOGICAL PROBLEMS CAN BE CLARIFIED BY APPLICATION OF THE BALANCE THEORY. A BIBLIOGRAPHY IS SUPPLIED.
Index Term(s): Attitudes; Criminology; Netherlands; Psychological theories; Sentencing disparity
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http://www.ncjrs.gov/App/publications/abstract.aspx?ID=67461

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