Research differential association theory and social learning theory as applied to criminal behavior and crime using the textbook, the Argosy University online library resources, and the Internet. Select two scholarly, peer-reviewed articles for use in this assignment. Based on the scenario, your readings and research, respond to the following: Be sure to support your responses using the selected resources. Write your initial response in 4 paragraphs. Apply APA standards to citation of sources.
Differential association theory and social learning theory are two prominent criminological theories that seek to explain the acquisition of criminal behavior and the causes of crime. Both theories posit that criminal behavior is learned through social interactions and that individuals are more likely to engage in criminal activities if they are exposed to pro-criminal influences. However, there are distinct differences between the two theories in terms of their focus and assumptions.
Differential association theory, developed by Edwin H. Sutherland in the 1930s, proposes that criminal behavior is learned through the process of socialization. According to this theory, individuals learn criminal behavior through their interactions with others, particularly with those who are already engaged in criminal activities. Through these interactions, individuals acquire techniques and attitudes that are supportive of criminal behavior. Differential association theory also emphasizes that the frequency, duration, and intensity of these associations play a significant role in shaping criminal behavior. In other words, if an individual has more exposure to criminal behavior and pro-criminal influences, they are more likely to engage in criminal activities themselves.
Social learning theory, on the other hand, builds upon differential association theory and incorporates elements of behavioral and cognitive theories of learning. Developed by Albert Bandura in the 1970s, social learning theory posits that individuals learn through observation and imitation of others. According to this theory, criminal behavior is learned through a process of vicarious reinforcement. Individuals observe the behavior of others, particularly those who are seen as role models, and determine the potential rewards and punishments associated with that behavior. If the observed behavior is rewarded, the individual is more likely to imitate it. In the context of criminal behavior, this theory suggests that individuals may learn criminal behavior by observing others who are rewarded for their illegal actions.
While both differential association theory and social learning theory emphasize the importance of socialization and learning in the acquisition of criminal behavior, there are some key differences between the two theories. One key difference lies in their conceptualization of the learning process. Differential association theory suggests that criminal behavior is learned through direct interactions with others, while social learning theory emphasizes the role of observational learning and vicarious reinforcement. Additionally, social learning theory takes into account cognitive processes, such as the individual’s perception of the potential rewards and punishments associated with criminal behavior.
Moreover, differential association theory places more emphasis on the social context and the influence of specific individuals and groups in shaping criminal behavior. In contrast, social learning theory acknowledges the broader social environment and the influence of cultural norms and media in shaping individuals’ attitudes and behavior. Social learning theory also highlights the role of self-efficacy, or the individual’s belief in their ability to successfully engage in criminal behavior, as a crucial factor in determining whether an individual will engage in criminal activities.
In conclusion, both differential association theory and social learning theory provide valuable insights into the causes of criminal behavior and the acquisition of criminal attitudes and skills. These theories highlight the importance of socialization and learning processes in shaping individuals’ behavior. However, they differ in terms of their conceptualization of the learning process, the emphasis placed on specific individuals versus the broader social context, and the inclusion of cognitive processes. Understanding these theories can provide useful tools for criminologists and policymakers in developing effective strategies for preventing and reducing crime.