THE ROLES OF LOCUS OF CONTROL AND GENDER ON THE CRIMINAL BEHAVIOUR OF ADOLESCENTS
Background of the Study
Criminal behaviour is a social and universal phenomenon with tremendous monetary and psychics costs (Anderson, 1999). Numerous disciplines study the causes of criminal behaviour. To explain heterogeneity in criminal behavior, we combine concepts from economics, psychology, gender studies or genetics and criminology that refer to differences in stable individual characteristics. But in this project work, we are interested in concepts from psychology, precisely, locus of control (Internal and external) and gender (male and female) characteristics in terms of their contributions and influences on the criminal behaviour of the adolescents.
Adolescence is one of the most challenging developmental periods in a person’s life. Individuals biologically and psychologically experience wide variety of changes in this period. Along with these changes, individuals begin to discover varieties of new emotional or behavioural stimulants of adult life. Biological, psychological social and environmental changes that occur in the adolescence process may cause vulnerability to engage in self destructive or health compromising behaviours. Some of these self-destructive or health compromising behaviours that initially occur in the adolescence process have long term effects in terms of health or other social and psychological consequences (Ingersoll & Orr, 1989, as cited in Bonzales & field, 1994). For this reason, a considerable amount of risk-taking research underlines the negative consequences of risk-taking behaviours associated with health and society (Ogel, Corapcioglu, Sir, Tamar, Tot, Dogan, Oguz Yenilmez, 2004; Hodgson, 2000 others include: reckless behaviours (Arnett, 1996), criminal activities such as stealing, sexual behaviour, smoking, heavy drinking drug use and abuse (Zuckerman & Kuh/Man 2000), these are regarded as potentially risky behaviours that might have negative long-term consequences.
Similarly, Jessor, Denovan and Costa (1991) found that problem behaviours proness in adolescence explained young adult problem behaviour including problem of drinking, alcohol use, marijuana use, cigarette smoking, and general deviant behaviour. Considering these long term negative consequences, risk-taking behaviour has become one of the most important topics of adolescent studies. Risk-taking behaviour are criminal behaviour in so many societies(Cost,1991).
In the literature, what constitute risk-taking behaviour or criminal behaviour is rather blurred. In other words, there is no consensus on the definition of this concept, that is criminal behaviour. Criminal behaviour or risk-taking behaviour has been conceptualized differently from variety of theoretical perspectives. For example, from the decision-making perspective, Irwin (1990, Irwin & Milstein, 1991) defines risk taking or criminal behaviour as volitional and violative behaviour whose outcome may be uncertain and probably the reason of negative consequences. Similarly, Moore and Cullone (1996) defined risk-taking behaviour as behaviour which involves potential negative consequences but is balanced in some way by perceived positive consequences. Furthermore, Zuckerman (1994), who views the risk-taking behaviour as a dispositional trait, defines risk as partly objective and partly individual’s subjective judgment of a certain situation.
As seen above, relatively different aspects of risk-taking behaviour are emphasized by the risk taking and criminal behaviours researchers. More specifically, what constitutes risk taking behaviour seems to be an “agreed upon” issue in risk taking literature (Gonzales & Field, 19994, Irwin & Millstein, 1992). A group of researchers generally viewed risk-taking as the behaviours that possibly cause long-term negative consequences to the health of individuals and that of the society at large (Ingersoll & Orr, 1989’, as cited in Gonzales & field, 1994) and deviate individuals from the norms of culture. Infact, these behaviors are crimes in many societies, and the adolesecents mainly involve themselves in these behaviours (zessor, chase & Denovan, 1980’, as cited in Siegel, 1994). These behaviours can be exemplified as smoking, alcohol and drug use. These behaviors are destructive and inimical to both players and spectators in the society (Siegel, 1994).
The concept of locus of control emerged out of social leaning theory more than 50 years ago. In his seminal work, Rotter (1954) proposed a theory of learning in which the reinforcement (ie., reward or punishment of a behavior strengthens individuals’ expectancy (expectation) that this particular behaviour will be reinforced in the future. The anticipation of future reinforcement is increased more, however, when individuals believe that the current reinforcement is contingent upon their own behavior than when they do not. As individuals differ in the reinforcement that they have received in the past, Rotter argued that they will also differ in the degree to which they generally attribute reinforcement to their own actions and that these beliefs regarding the internal versus external nature of reinforcement constituted a personality trait (Rotter, 1966). In the intervening years, locus of control has become one of the most frequently studied concepts in psychology (Rotter 1990; Lefcourt 1992). With conceptual link to motivation and self control, locus of control is also an increasingly important construct for understanding a wide range of behaviours, including criminal behaviour.
Today psychologist distinguish between and measure general closely-related concepts-locus of control, self esteem, self-efficacy, self control etc. although voluminous literatures on each have evolved somewhat independently, Judge (2002) conclude that in fact, locus of control, self-efficacy and self control are all makers of the same higher order concept. He argue that self control, locus of control and self esteem can be used for the basis of individuals’ core self-evaluations, ie, their fundamental assessment about themselves and their own self worth (Judge, 2003). Locus of control reflects individuals’ belief about whether what happens in life is causally determined by their own decisions and behaviour. Locus of control is a general skill that is thought to be stable across situations (Ajzen 2002). In terms of what locus of control scale or instrument to use in measurement, psychologist rely on locus of control measures which are specific to particular domains, e.g., health (wallson 1978), work (spector 1988) or finances (Furnham 1986), with perceived control measures for as many as 18 different domains existing by the early 1990s (Letcourt 1992). Self control is one of the elements of locus of control (Baumeister, 2007).
The conceptual link between locus of control and self-control is important because psychologists are increasingly incorporating the notion of temptation and self control into models of inter-temporal decision making. A vast array of decisions have been considered including consumption, and saving decisions (e.g., Thaler and shefrin 1981; shefrin $ Thaler 1988; Levin 1988), criminal behaviour (Lee and Mccray 2005). High self control which is associated with internal locus of supports individuals id demands for immediate gratification. High self control is enhanced by the belief that what one does matters (i.e., Internal locus of control), while low self control believe that what happens is a matter of luck (i.e., external locus of control), then self control may be another pathway linking locus of control to many of life’s outcomes.
Criminal behaviour is very much associated with locus of control in the sense that our belief determines what action we take. There are lots of importance attached with internal locus of control. People with internal locus of control have a high degree of control, exert effort, try hard, initiate actions, respect morals, and persist in the face of failures and set- backs, they evince interest, optimism, sustained attention, problem solving and action oriented (Skinner, 1996). There is a compelling evidence that having an internal locus of control is associated with behaviour as directed by the law. People with internal locus of control engage in lawful economic activities as means of livelihood (Judge, 2000), believe in the advantages associated with good education and they are willing to learn (Judge $ Hurst 2007). Persist in the face of adversity (Ng 2006, Wang 2010). on the other hand, the opposite of these characteristics mentioned define those with external locus of control. Finally, people with external locus of control have low self-esteem. Low self-esteem people easily engage in criminal behaviour.
When looking at criminal behaviour, it is very important to look at gender influences. In nearly all societies, men and women, boys and girls have different status and play different roles. Men and women behave differently and have different development characteristics. Some of these characteristics that differentiate men from the women in most cases determine the kind of action each of the sexes takes. For instance, men have more developed and stronger muscles, this gives them the avenue to engage in more stressful, demanding and dangerous activities. Men are more aggressive the female counterpart. Aggressiveness is associated with the influence of testosterone. The men have more testosterone. Excessive testosterone makes one aggressive and aggressiveness can lead to criminal behaviour(Galvin,2014). The excessive testosterone in the body of men makes them more aggressive and violent than their female counterpart. According to Galving (2014), violent crimes are mainly and mostly committed by the males.
The study of why adolescents commit crimes is important, not only as a field of behavioural research, but also as a source of data for construction of public policy models in response to criminal behaviour. Greater understanding of why adolescent commit criminal offences enables policy makers and the general public to make better decisions about the criminal Justice system.
Issues and cases of disciplines in schools today are different from those reported 5 or 10 years ago. Various problems involving adolescents include truancy in school, skipping classes, smoking, gangsterism, vandalism, running away from home, drug addiction, stealing, gambling, black mailing and fighting either individually or in groups (How Lee Chan, 2007), with most of the issues being related to triad activities (Mohd. Sharani and Zainal, 2005). The latter pointed out that the problem worsen as adolescents (Mostly students) with triad connection do not reflect on the repercussion resulting from disciplinary problems in school because of their belief that the triad are fully able to protect them from disciplinary actions or school authorities.
Disciplinary problems in schools among adolescents need to be given due attention (Bernama, 2007), particularly in view of several studies which showed indiscipline among adolescents in most country is on the rise (Shoba, 2007). Although the offences is committed by teenagers or children who are underage, they still must be responsible for the offenses they had committed. Thus the issue of considering what is good and what is bad, is not a trivial matter. Past studies have found locus of control to be relevant with individuals involved with immoral behavioural paterns such as watching Porn Videos (Corey, 2009). Therefore, every individual should be aware of and know the strength and the weakness of himself/herself as well as which locus of control dominates him/her so that he/she has a clearer perception of himself/herself.
According to the police chief Officer District of Batu Pahat Assistant Commissioner Din Ahmand discipline, problems in schools are becoming increasing critical and in some cases associated with criminal cases such as violent crimes and property crimes (Straits Times, 2012). The National key Result Areas (NKRA) lists violent crimes as murder, gang robbery using weapons, gang robbery without weapons, injuring people and rape, while property crimes involve burgary, theft and valence theft (Jabatan Prembangunan Bandardan Desa Semanjung Malaysia, 2011) Statistics social welfare Department (Jabatan Kebajikan Masyarakat) should each, type of offense has increased in 2011.Offense relating to properties amounted to 2,109 cases in 2010 and increased to 2,743 cases in 2011. offenses in connection with people also increased to 762 cases in 2011 compared to 543 cases in 2010. Gambling offenses among teenagers have also increased by about 75 percent, from 24 cases reported in 2010 to 42 cases in 2011. Offenses related to weapon/fuel increased to 72 cases in 2011 and drug offenses increased to 1,096 cases in 2010 (Jabatan Kebajikan Masyarakat, 2011). The phenomenon of adolescents becoming involved in crime or criminal activities, which has showed an increase over the years is very upsetting because if it is not controlled, it will have a negative impact on the country’s future human capital formation. Therefore, this case should be viewed seriously to ensure it does not become a factor which inhibits development of the country as a whole, as the quality of human capital is a significant factor in nation building.
Statement of the Problem
Criminal behaviour is a universal phenomenon with tremendous monetary and psychic costs (Anderson, 1999). Crime is one problems facing the world at large. There is no country, society, organization that is devoid of criminal behaviour. In other words, criminal behaviour is a world problem. Several and different programmes and strategies are being organized every time for the purpose of either eradicating or reducing criminal behaviour, but it is worrisome to see the rate at which criminal behaviour increases every minute as if no one is doing anything about. Criminal behaviour is a major part of every society, and most of it is committed by the adolescents out of curiosity (Arnett 1996). Its costs and effects touch just about everyone to some degree. The types of costs and effects are widely varied. In addition, some costs are short-term while others are lifetime. Of course, the ultimate cost is loss of life. Other costs to victims can include medical cost, property losses, and costs of income.
Some cost of crime are less tangible (not easily or precisely identified). These kind of cost can include pain and suffering, and a lower quality of life. There are also the traumatic impacts on friends and the disruption of family. Behaviour can be forever changed and shaped by crime, whether it be weighing the risk of fear of going to certain places or even the fear of making new friends. Criminal behaviour also affects economic productivity when victims miss work or school activities, communities are also affected through loss of tourism and retail sales. Even the so called victimless crimes such as prostitution, drug abuse, and Gambling also have their own health and social consequences (Anderson, 1990). Drug abuse affect worker’s productivity, uses public fund for drug treatment programs and medical attention, and leads to criminal activity to support the expenses of a drug habit.
Communities and government spend public fund for police departments, prisons and Jails, courts, and treatment programs, including the salaries of prosecutors, Judges, public defenders, security guards etc. the amount of time spent by victims, offenders, their families and juries during court trials also take away from community productivity (Anderson $ Elijah, 1990). By the beginning of the-twenty first century, it was estimated that the annual cost of crime in the united states was reaching upward toward $ 1.7 trillion ( Beckett, Katherine & Cook, 1997).
One thing surprises me, despite the level of cost both long tem and short term associated with criminal behaviour, so many people still engage in criminal behaviour, most especially the adolescents. For instance, despite the number of secret court (e.g. Eye, Aiye, Bukania, Baga etc)members that are being killed everyday by their opponent groups and by security agents, so many still joining the group everyday and night, so many burglars are being arrested everyday and disgraced publicly, even at times, some are killed, still at that so many others who even saw the way these people were arrested and disgraced still go and commit burglary crimes. Even the so called victimless crime, e.g. prostitution, everyday and night, stories come and so on how a sex-hawker sold herself to a politician, and immediately after which, the intake-canal became maggots producing machine. These occurrences are shown on the TV and pasted on the internet for everyone to see, yet , so many girls are busy looking for ways to become sex hawker. All these criminal behaviour are mostly committed by the adolescents. Now, the question is; what are those factors responsible for the commission of these acts? This study is interested in knowing the roles locus of control and gender play in these aforementioned criminal behaviour and others.
The following are the questions to be addressed in this study
- Will locus of control play statistically significant roles on the criminal behaviour of adolescents?
- Will gender play statistically significant roles on the criminal behaviour of adolescents?
Purpose of the Study
The general objective of this study is to evaluate the roles of locus of control and gender on the criminal behaviour of the adolescents. The specific objectives/purposes of this study are;
- To determine whether locus of control will play significant roles on the criminal behaviour of the adolescents.
- To determine whether gender will play significant roles on the criminal behaviour of the adolescents.
Significance of the Study
The study will provide light that will illuminate criminal behaviour in relation locus of control and gender. It provides hints on how locus of control and gender contribute to criminal behaviour of the adolescents.
It will also illuminate how locus of control relates to self control and how these two concepts determine the kind of actions the adolescents engage in. For instance, one with low self-control (external locus of control) will not be expected to engage in the same behavior/action with one with high self-control (Internal locus of control). In addition, this study will also throw light on how gender differences predict the factors responsible for the different criminal behaviours committed by the adolescents.
Operational Definition of Terms
Locus of control: This refers to the extent to which people believe they have power over events in their lives as measured by Rotter’s(1966)locus of control scale—–External Vs Internal: It is divided into internal and external. Internal locus of control is when one believes that his doings are responsible for his results while external believe that their success or failure is determine by forces beyond their control e.g. luck, God etc.
Gender: Is a state of being a male or female.
Criminal Behaviour: This is any behaviour that violates the law as measured by Extravagant Life-style Assessment Scale
Adolescents: These are group of individuals between 13 and 19 and can be considered to be undergoing the transitional stage of childhood to adulthood.
Role: The function or effect somebody or something has on another thing or in a relationship.
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