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Psychological And Sociological Reasons Juvenile Delinquency

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Juvenile delinquency is defined as “failure to follow the law by a young person or group, the act which labels young people as deviant or delinquent” (Open University, 2020). Since Juvenile Delinquency is multifaceted, this essay will look at two social science approaches, sociological and psychological, to understand juvenile delinquency whilst reviewing the similarities and differences between these approaches. On the psychological approach, it will explore Eysenck’s Theory of personality, the Cambridge study of delinquent development, and the Integrated Cognitive Antisocial Potential theory (ICAP), and the sociological approach will analyze the theories of Howard Becker, Stanley Cohen, and Stuart Hall.

Psychological approaches look at what makes some individuals behave in a deviant manner and not others. Psychologist, Hans Eysenck’s developed a theory which links personality to deviant or criminal behavior (Harverd and Clarke, 2014), this theory helped in explaining why and how we are different from others and link criminal behavior to a certain personality, he put forth three traits to explain our individuality, these traits are Extraversion, Neuroticism, and Psychoticism. Each of these traits has dualistic outcomes, High and Low, the structure simply allows an individual to answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to set of questions to determine which personality they are categorized to. Through this research, Eysenck was able to determine which personality type was more likely to behave in a deviant way and therefore commit crimes compares to others. To summarize Eyneck’s theory, the majority of those who scored higher on the psychoticism scale were more likely to be criminals, he also believes that there was a biological basis for personality and that extraversion and neuroticism related to arousal from the nervous system. (Harverd and Clarke, 2014, p 252). Furthermore Eysenck proposed that there is a link between personality and antisocial behavior, and this is due to the experience we have as a child and our upbringing, this theory was also supported by the studies conducted by Center and Kemp (2002) using children and adolescents, their findings from this study shows that those who were classed as antisocial did in fact scored high on the EPQ questionnaire.

The Cambridge study of delinquent development was a longitudinal study led by David Farrington, this study looked at 411 males from the age of 8, up to the age of 48. This study was done to examine the cause of antisocial behaviour in a group of children over a long period of time. The outcome of the study showed that of those 411 participants, 1/3 of them had been convicted of a criminal offence by the age of 32 and rose to 41% when the men were surveyed at 48 years. (Harverd and Clarke, 2014). Prof. John Muncie summerized that this research help in identifying future criminality using different risk factors such as low intelligent, poor, and antisocial parents, and also environmental factors such as like-minded peers, delinquent school and unemployment moreover, this research showed that 6% of the chronic offenders shared common childhood characteristics. Prof. John Muncie also believed that the traits of deviant or antisocial behaviour can be identified as early as age 10 and this research can be used on a global scale to understand juvenile delinquency (Open Unievrsity,2020). Farrington further went into developing The integrated Cognitive Antisocial Potential Theory (ICAP), this is used to explain the behaviour of a deviant individual and more importantly the Antisocial potential (AP). This theory suggests that there are short- and long-term factors for AP. Just as the Cambridge study, ICAP looks at risk factors which may influence someone to go from low AP to High AP, furthermore Farrington (2003) suggested that those who are at most risk from offending can benefit and be prevented by some intervention and cognitive-behavioural skill training. (Open University, 2020)

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Much like Farrington, Howard Becker looked at sociological approach to studying deviant, criminal and delinquent behaviour, he categorized his observation into four categories. He said that the main difference between deviant and normal is the label that has been bestowed upon them, thus an individual from the normal group might have conducted the same behaviour as the labelled member but since the normal group are not labelled they are not seen as delinquent, this works both ways, someone in the deviant group might have been mislabel however he is judged because of the label. He further discusses that labels such as ‘yobs’. ‘neds’,’chavs’ are mainly used on younger people to perpetrate undesirable view of them. Becker suggested that there should be more attention paid to the process of what identify them as deviant and normal, his third category suggested that society have different opinion about what behaviour is deviant, as an example, killing someone is a criminal act however in wartimes this is not a deviant act further more Becker argues that the label we are given shapes the way we live our lives therefore those who are labelled as deviant in fact become their label. (Haverd and Clarke, 2014).

Both Psychological and Sociological approaches share similarities and differences, they are similar as they are drawn from social science perspectives therefore have a common objective of looking at disorders within our society, these methods are designed and conducted in way that the result can be analysed and explained using data. Furthermore, both of these approaches tend to focus more on delinquency and antisocial behaviour of men rather than women moreover the approached tend to be based on working class individuals and groups.

The similarities help in understanding how these two approaches???,that being said they do have their differences; psychological approach tend to focus on development of individuals through behaviour and cognitive analysis by either using Eyenck’s theory of personality or the ICAP whereas social approach looks at the process and the actions of control. Relatedly, psychologist research observed white working-class male and had developed their theory however the social approach showed us that higher class children are just as likely to commit crimes but are not labelled as delinquent nonetheless the working class and ethnic minority are more likely to be stopped and search or arrested, furthermore, psychologist looks at risk factors such as income, peers, deviant parents and also personality whereas the social theorist work on the processes which label someone as deviant, and they look at whether these people live up to the label.

In conclusion, this essay has identified few of the theories explored by psychologists as well as sociologists. We’ve looked at Eyneck’s theory of personality, The Cambridge study, and ICAP which helped in identifying the psychological approach, additionally it looked at the sociological theories of H. Becker, S.Hall, and S.Cohan. As explained, these two approaches share few similarities as they both have concerns with social orders and disorders, equally, they looked at primarily male participants to further their approach and outcome as well as telling us that they do change over time, both approaches are governed by quantitative and qualitative findings. Additionally, we’ve looked at what makes them different, the psychological approach is always about the individual within the society as opposed to a group or the process, whereas the Sociological approach is about the process and agencies of control such as being label normal and deviant, how the law within policing works, and more importantly the affect media have in our society.

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Psychological And Sociological Reasons Juvenile Delinquency. (2022, Jun 09). Edubirdie. Retrieved May 29, 2023, from
“Psychological And Sociological Reasons Juvenile Delinquency.” Edubirdie, 09 Jun. 2022,
Psychological And Sociological Reasons Juvenile Delinquency. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 29 May 2023].
Psychological And Sociological Reasons Juvenile Delinquency [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Jun 09 [cited 2023 May 29]. Available from:
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