Developmental Psychology Contributing to the Understanding of Crime and Deviance


Developmental Psychology describes an individual's development process starting from the day of his conception through through to his death. It takes into account all the factors that contribute towards building up of a human being. There are many factors that contribute towards building a person and these factors have been studied in order to understand "what makes us tick?"

When a child is conceived, his parents pass him on the genetic material. This genetic inheritance is a first step in the contribution towards our development of any kind. Obviously the genetic inheritance is all by chance but other factors that are not controlled by chance yet affect heavily towards the psychological development of an individual are the environmental factors. How an individual psychic develops due to the environmental factors plays an important part in understanding the reasons for that individual committing to crime. Since this development starts from conception, therefore all the events during pregnancy will also play an important role in developing our psychological state. It has been found that factors such as mother's mental state during pregnancy and her smoking and drinking habits effects heavily towards producing a child that is more likely to commit a crime. Other factors such as exposure to neurotoxin after birth, hypersensitivity, and male gender also predispose the individual to become a deviant and commit crime. Also if the parents are from a poor background, large family size or are divorced, this would also put the individual at a risk of likely to commit crime. This is understandable as parents contribute heavily towards the development of a child. Therefore if the child is lacking in parental force or attention, he is lacking in his development. This could cause flaws in his personality, which in effect could make him weak and when presented with an opportunity to commit crime will not be able to resist. On other hand a child from stable background that had a complete and fair attention of his family and was given love and care. Punished when something wrong, and awarded when done well, that child will grow up to respect values ​​and morals because they have been shown to him through his developmental years which will make him strong in character and would not commit crime if ever presented with the opportunity.

Farrington 1991 has given several factors, which relate the psychological development to risk of becoming delinquent. He has stated factors, such as Poor parent-child communication, lack of guilt in the child, maternal depression, poverty / low socio-economic status, maltreatment, television violence, early onset of other disruptive behavior, poor academic achievement among many others. In conclusion, how we develop through our life, plays a vital role in us becoming a deviant and likely to commit a crime. Therefore in order to deal with crime and eradication of it, it is important to deal with these factors and to minimize the exposure to the risk factors will cause a normal development of an individual and less crime committed

What is De-individuation?

De-individuation theory describes a state of an individual's mind which by nature is a good human being but when in a group situation, will react completely different to its usual good-natured self and act in a way, which is not acceptable under normal circumstances . This person will lose his self-identity in a large group and will act on behalf of the group rather than himself. His reaction will reflect the reaction of collective behavior of the group, which could be completely different from his individual behavior. Therefore this person has said to lose his self-identity and has become accustomed to de-individuation.

The example would be how people behaved in a crowd situation. In a match crowd for example, which consists of many respectable individuals, but when overtaken by the emotions of the game and collective mood of the crowd will tend to misbehave and this will give rise to the hooligans. These mindless hooligans may be very soft natured human being in their normal lives but within a match crowd lose their self-identity and become irrational and irresponsible and just represents the crow's mood only. They seem to be overtaken by the anonymity and exclusion of the crowd, which cause them to stop evaluating their own behavior.

This theory was developed to explain the violence and irrationality of the crowd. How does a group of seemingly normal individuals become an unruly mob? All this makes the crowd pickle and explosive, and prone to anti-normative and disinherited behavior

Dr Chand Zahid