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Association with Anti-Social Peers Inversely Related to DUI

Most research on drunk driving tends to come from various social science communities focused on driving safety or substance abuse. Most individuals do not perceive a DUI as they would a normal “street crime”; and as a result there is very little research looking at the criminological concepts. Alcohol is seen as a social lubricant and its use is widespread in our culture. Driving under the influence often begins with attendance of a sporting event, having drinks at a bar, or just meeting some buddies for drinks after a day of work. This results in some individuals drinking enough to be over the legal limit and then continue to get behind the wheel. Repeat DUI offending is commonly thought of as a byproduct of alcoholism or substance abuse. Although alcohol addiction may be related to recidivism, it cannot on its own provide a decent explanation as to why some individuals never get arrested for DUI, or only once, and others are arrested 3-4 or more times in a matter of a couple years. Many researchers believe that there are actually more complex social and psychological cognitive processes… Read More

JUVENILE DELINQUENCY | THEORIES AND RISK FACTORS – PT. 5

While individual and family risk factors play a larger role early in life, negative peer influences usually begin to play an increasingly larger role in early adolescence. A relationship between delinquent peer influence and juvenile offending is generally well established throughout the field of forensic psychology; what is unclear though is whether or not this association with delinquent peers is a result of antisocial tendencies developed earlier in life, or if it actually contributes to the overall risk of developing delinquent behavior. It has been suggested that deviant peer groups do in fact influence non-delinquent individuals to become delinquent. According to the National Youth Survey of juveniles ages eleven to seventeen, a common pattern that was seen was a child switching from a non-delinquent peer group to a deviant peer group, resulting in the commission of various minor offenses, and in some cases more severe crimes. Gang membership is also strongly correlated with self-reported criminal activity. It is suggested that the association of peer groups with antisocial tendencies leads to a greater suspiciousness of other people’s motives, resulting in further hostile and aggressive responses to those outside… Read More

JUVENILE DELINQUENCY | THEORIES AND RISK FACTORS – PT. 4

Environmental factors, which include both static and dynamic factors, are also believed to play a significant role in the proper development of a child.It was found that low-income children had a significantly higher risk of antisocial behavior before the age of 5, leading to criminal behavior in adolescence in mixed neighborhoods, compared to those living in concentrated poverty. Non-poor children are also associated with higher levels of antisocial behavior when living in mixed neighborhoods, compared to children surrounded by equally affluent families. Although these individuals are at higher risk of becoming delinquent, the majority of children living in poverty or mixed neighborhoods do not grow to become juvenile offenders; this is referred to as resiliency, a term used to describe an individual’s ability to grow into an adult who lives a socially acceptable lifestyle, despite the exposure to any negative risk factors. Family factors can include parenting practices, divorce, and family size. It has been found that the families of children with conduct problems are eight times more likely to be involved in disciplinary conflict, and are half as likely to engage in positive interactions with parents… Read More

JUVENILE DELINQUENCY | THEORIES AND RISK FACTORS – PT. 3

In the field of forensic psychological research, not only is importance given to the neurophysiological, cognitive, and psychosocial components of juvenile delinquency that were discussed above, but interest is also given to the various ecological and individual, risk and protective factors of juvenile offending. Risk factors are often used to assess the probability of an individual becoming delinquent, and the chances for repeat offending. Risk factors generally include any individual or environmental factors that increase the likelihood of negative behaviors or juvenile offending. Protective factors are thought to decrease the likelihood of negative behavior, or mitigate the negative effect of certain risk factors. Some factors are considered to be static, which are unable to be changed, such as the increased risk of criminal behavior in the male gender; others are dynamic factors, which can potentially be changed, such as inadequate parenting or discipline. The number of factors, and the length of exposure to them, determines the severity of the impact on the child’s behavior. Individual factors are often thought to be the most influential during early years, and include the individual’s temperament. Low intelligence, and the existence of… Read More

Juvenile Delinquency | Theories and Risk Factors – pt. 2

Judgment theory identifies three developmental factors that explain why, when compared to adults, adolescents tend to make poorer choices: risk perception and preference, peer influence, and temporal perspective. According to judgment theory, adolescents are more sensitive to reward, and less sensitive to the idea of potential punishment or harm. As an individual develops and becomes a young adult, the idea of potential harm or future loss begins to play a larger role in the decision making process. Throughout adolescence, the way peers perceive an individual becomes increasingly important, placing the individual at a higher risk of being negatively influenced compared to adult counterparts. Furthermore, adolescents are more likely to identify the short-term benefits, instead of the potential long-term consequences; even when the long-term implications are identified, an adolescent has less capacity to appropriately weigh the short and long-term consequences. Deficits caused by these three developmental factors slowly begin to taper off as the individual reaches adulthood. This may help explain why crime tends to rise in early adolescence, with a peak in late adolescence, and begins slowly fading in young adulthood. The executive function, defined as a… Read More

Juvenile Delinquency | Theories and Risk Factors

Although some individuals may be born with a predisposition to violence or criminal behavior, the general consensus among forensic psychologists is that in the majority of cases, beginning at birth, a child is exposed to various risk factors that contribute to the development of antisocial behaviors and juvenile offending. Juvenile delinquency, the focus of these posts, will be explored in greater detail in terms of the reasons for antisocial behavior and any measures that can be taken to prevent an offending trajectory; beginning with the relevant statistics pertaining to juvenile criminal activity, and the various well-known psychological theories on the causes of juvenile delinquency, including: the theories of judgment and decision making, along with the social neurocognitive developmental approach. We will explore the various risk factors of juvenile offending and recidivism. Recent research findings will also be mentioned as they relate to the discussion of the topic. A brief discussion on adolescents’ abilities to make informed decisions regarding their rights and their criminal cases will also be included in the last entry. In 2010, 4% of individuals 18 and below were arrested in the United States, which… Read More

Police Enforcement Intensity & DUI

Various articles have been written exploring the associations between increased police activities and a reduction in DUI related crashes and fatalities. A review by James Fell and colleagues attempted to quantitatively measure increased policing efforts and determine if there was a relationship or reduction in DUI’s and DUI’s resulting in crash or jury; number of checkpoints, special DUI/DWI patrols, and arrests are all variables that were considered in the analysis. Various other law enforcement strategies were considered: specific deterrence, general deterrence, highly visible traffic enforcement, enforcement presence, and overall traffic enforcement. Specific deterrence refers to the annual number of DUI arrests per capita within the jurisdiction. General deterrence examined the frequency and duration of field sobriety checkpoints. Highly visible traffic enforcement looked at the annual number of traffic stops per capita. Enforcement presence is defined in the study as the number of sworn police officers per capita. Overall traffic enforcement was focused on the annual number of other traffic citations, examples include: warnings, seatbelt violations, speeding tickets and other moving violations. Each of these variables was compared together and individually to the rates of DUI. The 2007… Read More

Energy Drinks, Alcohol, and DUI

A Comparison of the Combined-Use of Alcohol & Energy Drinks to Alcohol-Only on High-Risk Drinking and Driving Behaviors Energy Drinks Since the introduction of the first energy drink in the United States in 1997, the marketing and sale of these drinks has grown exponentially. In 2006 alone, more than 500 new energy drinks were introduced to the market resulting in billions of dollars in profit. Energy drink manufacturers share similar marketing techniques with the alcohol industry, largely aiming to advertise to young adults between 18 and 24. The sizes of energy drink containers range from 2-20 oz containers; many of the 2 oz energy drink shots are concentrated with stimulants and some are actually stronger than their larger counterparts. It is not uncommon to see a variety of herbal ingredients on labels, including: ginseng, ginko biloba, yohimbine, evodamine, yerba mate, milk thistle, taurine, and guarna. Ginseng, yohimbine HCL, and evodamine have been found to cause enhanced synergistic effects with caffeine, and pose a risk for “serious prescription drug interactions and neurological effects.” Caffeine is the most well-known and heavily researched stimulant in energy drinks, coming in concentrations… Read More

Hare’s Idea of a Psychopath

What Is A Psychopath? Psychopath is a term used to describe a person with a certain cluster of psychological, interpersonal, and neurophysiological traits, distinguishing them from the rest of the population. Robert Hare, an expert in psychopathy, describes these individuals as: “…social predators who charm, manipulate, and ruthlessly plow their way through life, leaving a broad trail of broken hearts, shattered expectations, and empty wallets. Completely lacking in conscience and empathy, they selfishly take what they want and do as they please, violating social norms and expectations without the slightest sense of regret. Hare also separated psychopaths into three distinct categories: the primary psychopath, the neurotic psychopath (also known as secondary), and the dyssocial psychopath. What is a Primary Psychopath? According to Hare, the primary psychopath is the “true” psychopath; secondary and dyssocial psychopaths have little in common physiologically with that of a primary psychopath. A primary psychopath has certain cognitive, psychological, emotional, and neurophysiological differences that separate them from the other types of psychopaths, and the general public. These individuals are believed to be charming, and are often above average in intelligence. Genetics is believed to… Read More

Alcohol & Mind Wandering | DUI

DUI | Alcohol and Mind Wandering Alcohol has been shown to be one of the leading causes of fatal car accidents; around 58% of drivers involved in fatal crashes were found to be driving under the influence of alcohol in a research review article. An article written by Michael Sayette and colleagues in Psychological Science, suggests a factor contributing to the commonality of DUI arrests: mind wandering. What is Mind Wandering? Mind wandering can be defined as an experience in which an individual is unable to focus on a single topic or activity; the ability to stay focused is important, especially when engaged in an attention-demanding task like driving a vehicle. Sometimes, you may be able to catch yourself mind wandering, and will be able to consciously re-focus your attention on the task at hand. Other times, you may not be able to catch yourself for a certain amount of time. Generally, the older the individual, the longer it takes to catch mind wandering. Half of the participants reached a .05% blood alcohol level before starting the study, and the other half drank a placebo that had… Read More

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