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NCJ Number: 69143 Find in a Library
Title: NEUTRALIZATION OF CRIMINAL OFFENSE
Journal: CRIMINOLOGY  Volume:18  Issue:1  Dated:(MAY 1980)  Pages:103-120
Author(s): W W MINOR
Date Published: 1980
Page Count: 18
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: THIS STUDY EXPLORES THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN TYPES OF CRIMINAL OFFENSES AND THE TYPES OF EXCUSES CRIMINALS FAVOR. MAJOR OFFENDER GROUPS WERE QUESTIONED ON A 15-ITEM NEUTRALIZATION SCALE.
Abstract: THE DATA FOR THIS STUDY WERE OBTAINED THROUGH A 1973 SURVEY OF A SYSTEMATIC RANDOM SAMPLE OF 365 INMATES IN FOUR FLORIDA PRISONS. MAJOR OFFENDER GROUPS WERE KILLER/ASSAULTERS, ROBBERS, AND BURGLARS. IN ADDITION TO OTHER ITMES ON THE ANONYMOUS QUESTIONNAIRE, INMATES RESPONDED TO A 15-TIME NEUTRALIZATION SCALE IN WHICH EACH OF THREE HYPOTHETICAL SITUATIONS (DISORDERLY CONDUCT, BURGLARY, AND ROBBERY) WERE FOLLOWED BY FIVE LIKERT-SCORED EXCUSES. THESE EXCUSES WERE BASED ON THE FIVE TECHNIQUES OF NEUTRALIZATION--DENIAL OF RESPONSIBILITY, OF INJURY, OR OF THE VICTIM; CONDEMNATION OF THE CONDEMNER; AND APPEAL TO HIGHER LOYALTIES. THE FIRST HYPOTHESIS TESTED WAS THAT KILLERS/ASSAULTERS WOULD HAVE MORE POSITIVE ATTITUDES TOWARD THE LAW THAN EITHER BURGLARS OR ROBBERS WOULD; AND THAT BURGLARS WOULD HAVE MORE POSITIVE ATTITUDES TOWARDS THE LAW THAN ROBBERS WOULD (EACH ASSUMPTION BASED ON GIVEN OFFENDER GROUP CHARACTER TYPES). THE STUDY FOUND THAT KILLERS/ASSAULTERS WERE SIGNIFICANTLY MORE LIKELY TO FEEL THAT PEOPLE SHOULD OBEY THE LAW THAN EITHER OF THE OTHER TWO GROUPS. CONTRARY TO THE HYPOTHESIS, THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ROBBERS' AND BURGLARS' ATTITUDES TOWARD THE LAW IS ATTRIBUTABLE TO CHANCE. DATA ALSO CONTRADICTS THE SECOND HYPOTHESIS, THAT OFFENDERS ARE COMMITTED TO THEIR MISDEEDS; EACH OFFENDER GROUP DISAPPROVED OF THEIR RESPECTIVE CRIMINAL BEHAVIOR. THE FINAL HYPOTHESIS, THAT CERTAIN TYPES OF OFFENDERS WOULD FAVOR CERTAIN TYPES OF EXCUSES MORE THAN OTHER TYPES OF OFFENDERS, WAS NOT SUPPORTED BY THE DATA. THE PRESENT RESEARCH, FAILING TO ESTABLISH SIMPLE RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN EXCUSES AND BEHAVIOR, SUGGESTS THAT THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN VOCABULARIES OF MOTIVE AND CRIMINAL BEHAVIOR ARE MORE SUBTLE, COMPLEX, AND SITUATION-SPECIFIC THAT PREVIOUSLY RECOGNIZED. MAJOR TASKS FOR SUBSEQUENT NEUTRALIZATION RESEARCH ARE TO EMPIRICALLY DISTINGUISH BETWEEN NEUTRALIZATION AND UNCONVENTIONAL COMMITMENT, TO CLARIFY THE RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN THEM, AND TO DETERMINE THE EFFECT OF EACH ON ILLEGAL BEHAVIOR, PAYING PARTICULAR ATTENTION TO THE PROBLEM OF CAUSAL ORDER. THE NEUTRALIZATION SCALE AND REFERENCES ARE APPENDED.
Index Term(s): Attitudes toward authority; Behavioral science research; Inmate attitudes; Offense classification; Personality assessment; Self concept; Surveys
Note: PRESENTED AT THE ANNUAL MEETING OF THE AMERICAN SOCIETY OF CRIMINOLOGY, DALLAS, TEXAS, NOVEMBER 9, 1978.
To cite this abstract, use the following link:
http://www.ncjrs.gov/App/publications/abstract.aspx?ID=69143

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