THE INFLUENCE OF PERSONALITY AND AGE ON ATTITUDE TOWARDS CRIME AMONG ADOLESCENTS

THE INFLUENCE OF PERSONALITY AND AGE ON ATTITUDE TOWARDS CRIME AMONG ADOLESCENTS

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CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1 Background of Study

Over the years, crime has caused loss of live and property as well as over whelming fear of insecurity. Crime is a challenge in human existence and has become a big problem in our society. Crime is universal, it is a common phenomenon in every society, but certain societies have recorded higher percentages of criminal activities than others. According to crime statistics by the Nigeria Police, crime has shown an upward trend in the past years in Nigeria. According to the Police Headquarters report in Lagos from October 1995 to October 2005, the risk has continued to increase yearly in arithmetic progression (Crime Statistics, Nigeria Police Headquarters Lagos, 2005). The increase in the rate of crime in this country has created a lot of problems to the Police Force and the Law Courts. Crime is a global problem but it varies in different societies or countries. For instance, in the Western world same sex marriage is a normal behaviour but in Nigeria, it is seen as a crime that is punishable by law. The House of Representatives had on May 30th 2013, passed the Anti-Same Sex Marriage Bill that makes same-sex unions in Nigeria a criminal offence punishable by a maximum sentence of 14 years in prison. The bill also criminalizes public displays of affection by same-gender partners. The bill also states that any person who registers, operates or participates in gay clubs, societies and organizations directly or indirectly, makes a public show of a same-sex amorous relationship commits an offence and shall be liable to a term of 10 years imprisonment. Crime has become so menacing in our society that it is now feared in some quarters that a great danger awaits the country in the nearest future. Crime is an act that violates the law of the society or serious offence against the law of the society for society for which there is a severe punishment by law (Eddiefloyd, 2006). Crime is any action or omission prohibited by law and punished by the state. Crime is a deviant behaviour that violates prevailing norms, which may be cultural, social, political, psychological and economic conditions. Crime is an act defined by law. It is an act or omission which renders the person doing the act or making the omission liable to punishment (Okonkwo, 1980). Durkheim (1951) defined crime within a social context.  He saw crime as a social product, determined by social conditions, capable of being controlled only in social terms.  Crime is therefore normal in all societies, and “a society exempt from crime would necessitate a standardization of moral concepts of all individuals, which is neither possible nor desirable (Durkhiem, 1951). Durkheim (1951) was of the opinion that crime is a normal phenomenon in the society, a natural and inevitable product of collective life and social evolution.  He held that the collective conscience of a people defines what crime is.  Durkheim (1951) believed that crime plays a definite role in social life. There are many types of crime. It is a well-known fact that when the word crime is mentioned, most people will normally focus on certain specific kinds of crime, usually conventional crimes of the street corner variety. But the truth is that crime and criminals are found everywhere, and there are many kinds of crimes and criminals. Several criteria have been employed by criminologists, (e.g Clinnard, 1973) to classify crime. Some of the many classes of crime include, violent crime, which involves the use of violence. Property crime, which involves the deprivation of property, they are crimes against property. Occupational crimes (e.g white-collar crimes), are crimes which take place in business and government circles. Organized crimes, this is the criminal activities of an organized network of people who work together in close structured association to make large profits through illegal means by using graft and corruption to protect their activities from criminal persecution. Person or Personal crime, involves harm or physical injury inflicted against a person. Victimless crime, are crimes without direct victim. Professional crimes, these are crimes by professional criminals who specialize in particular type of crime. It requires a long period of training, complex occupational skills, techniques and attitudes. Crime against Public Morality, these offend public standards of decency and right conduct. Crime against Lawful authority, these crimes violates the Federal, State, and Local Government authority laws on public order and environment. (Eddiefloyd, 2006).

Notwithstanding all the causes mentioned above, another potent factor that is often neglected on issue of crime and criminal behaviour is attitude. An individual predisposition towards crime, knowing attitude to be an individual expression on how much like or dislike he/she has over a thing, event, behaviour or object. It cannot be neglected in criminal behaviour. Attitudes are evaluation of ideas (such as the insanity defense), events (such as surprise parties), objects (such as abstract art) or people (such as sorority members). Fishbein (1993) sees attitude as a person‟s evaluation of an act or behaviour towards a specific act and is proposed to be a function of acts perceived consequences and of their value to that person. The underlining factor here is that attitude towards a particular object or event is influenced by the personal experience of the individual. In summary, an attitude is a learned predisposition to respond consistently in a position or negative way to some person, object or situation (Petty, Ostrom and Brock, 1981). Attitude has three basic components. These are 1. The cognitive component, which represents thoughts or beliefs.

2.    The affective and emotional component which reflects feelings or emotional reacting and

3.    The behaviour component which describes tendencies or predisposition towards certain actions based a particular attitude. (Allport, 1973).

      Personality is that dynamic and organized set of characteristics possessed by a person who uniquely influences his or her cognitions, emotions, motivations, and behaviours in various situations. Personality is the unique and variable patterns of human behaviours, focusing on sensing, thinking, and feelings. The personality of the individual is the settled framework of references within which a person addresses the current situation and decides how to behave. Personality is a comprehensive, all embracing concept and the total pattern of characteristics ways of thinking, feeling, and behaving that constitute the individual‟s distinctive method of relating to the environment. Personality is a sum total psychological characteristic of a person that are common as well as unique. The integrated and dynamic organization of the physical mental, moral and social qualities of the individual, as that manifests itself to other people, in the give and take of social life (Ramalingam, 2006). Eysenck (1977) argued that personality influences behaviour. Conklin (1981), showed that the personality traits of offenders did differ from the general population, although, the differences were usually small. Zimbardo (1972) said that, there were some evidences that delinquents and criminals might be more emotionally disturbed than the general populations. Tenibiaje (1995) observed that the personality characteristics of juvenile delinquents and criminals were not similar, in terms of extroversion, neuroticism and psychoticism. Understanding why crime occurs requires an appreciation of the complexity of human behaviour. Behaviour is not determined by one factor, but rather influenced by a host of interrelated factors (Bandura, Reese & Adams, 1982). For example, an individual‟s action to losing his or her job may vary according to factors such as age, coping skills, personality, level of social support, or financial status. Thus, both individual and structural level factors are essential to explaining current behaviour and to predicting future behaviour. Although Gottfredson and Hirshi (1990) are sociologists by training, they argued that people differ in an underlying criminal propensity, ie low self-control. According to self-control theory, the formation of the stable trait of self-control occurs via the parent-child socialization or the reciprocal bonding process from birth to age eight. Self-control theory shares strong conceptual link to personality theory (Farrington, 2002, Miller & Lynam, 2001). However, other avenues of integration of personality with criminological theory could be useful. For example, Agnew‟s (1992) General Strain Theory, (GST) focuses on personal pressures arising from the environment that align with individual conditioning factors to press a person toward crime. Life strain by causing, influencing and interacting with negative emotions,  aggressive personality traits, and criminogenic social learning are predicted to result in dysfunctional coping such as delinquent behaviours. Agnew (1992), predicted that crime is more likely when goal blockage is perceived as unjust and when the gap between goals and achievements is high in magnitude and the resulting anger and frustrations energize the individual for action and create a desire for revenge. Cohen and Felson, (1979), in their routine activity theory, which is classified as a criminal opportunity theory with concepts that emphasize victim risk, specifically noted that risk is created by proximity to crime and target suitability. Some researchers have recently asserted that, for some youth, victimization is a „condition‟ rather than an event (Finkelher, Ormrad, Turner & Heide, 1999). This youth do not experience only one or several separate incidents of victimizations, but endure repeated and multiple victimizations, as if being repeated victims comprise their own crime „hot spot‟ (Menard & Huizinga, 2001, Pease & Laycock, 1996).

Age can be the number of years that a person has lived or a thing has existed. It is a particular period of history. Erickson (1968), refer adolescent age, as period of “identity crisis”. Adolescence is the period which starts from age 12/13 to the beginning of adulthood. An adolescent spend more time with peers, particularly with small groups of friends, than with parents, siblings or any other agent of socialization. (Berndt 1996; Larson & Richards 1991). They tend to at this age have different groups that have developed dress codes, dialects, and behaviours that distinguish them from the other. Identifying with such groups can be harmful, particularly if evolving group norms encourage alcohol or drug use, sexual misconduct, or other kinds of antisocial or delinquent behaviours. Crime is a global problem. It has being a source of concern to every society.

1.2 Statement of Problem

Crime is always seen as a major challenge to every society. A crime free society could be regarded as the best in the world. Owing to this, every society is using every instrument within its possession to ameliorate or eliminate crime to the barest minimum. In the same vein, researchers are not relenting in this effort. They work hard trying to contribute their quota towards this objective through research works. In as much as many researchers concentrated only the Political, Sociological and Economical factors paying little or no attention to psychological such as Personality , Attitude, Age etc. Therefore, this study deemed it necessary looking at the influence these factors could have on crime. Knowing fully well that an individual attitude towards a stimulus can be used to predict his actual behaviour towards such stimulus, the research believed that one of the best methods of preventing or controlling crime is to observe how those people perceive crime. We must not wait until an individual commits a crime before taking action. Through the person‟s attitude towards crime, one can predict what the individual will do when exposed to criminality. Therefore, the study will not only observe this predisposition but will also check whether variables such as age and personality will have an influence on the individual‟s attitude towards crime.

1.3 Research Objectives

1.To determine the influence of the Big 5 Personality dimension on attitude of adolescent towards crime

2. To determine the effect of age on attitude towards crime among adolescent

3. To examine the effect of peer influence and attitude towards crime.

1.4 Research Questions

1.What is the influence of the Big 5 Personality dimension on attitude of adolescent towards crime?

2. What is the effect of age on attitude towards crime among adolescent?

3. What is the effect of peer influence and attitude towards crime?

1.5 Hypotheses

The following hypotheses were postulated

The Big 5 Personality dimensions will not independently significantly predict attitude towards crime among adolescent. 

Age will not significantly influence attitude towards crime among adolescent.

1.6 Significance of the Study

 Potency of the prediction power of the home environmental factors on the personality characteristics of students pose concerns to the generality of people, particularly psychologists, sociologists, educators, parents and school administrators. It has been observed that home environment plays significant roles in the development of personality. This is because home is the first social environment of an individual when he or she enters the world by birth. The early years of a child‟s life are critical for the development of personality (Freud, 1933; Bandura, 1977; Hurlock, 1978). Theoretically, the study has provided useful empirical evidence on the predictive power of home environmental factors on personality characteristics of adolescent students. It was established in this study that home factors like family relationship, parenting style and Socio-Economic Status (SES) of parents have high predictive power on secondary sch 28 kind of experience an individual had during his/her childhood especially in the home determines in large part what the individual could be later in life. Other experiences outside the home may add to what is already put in place or inculcated in the individual while in the home. On this basis therefore, the present study adds to the existing theories of Sigmund Freud and Bandura (Psychoanalytic and Socio-learning theories respectively), which emphasize early experiences and reciprocal determinism as the key to understanding behaviour. The study shades more light on why secondary school adolescents exhibits different personality characteristics (traits) in the society.

The findings added to the literature and knowledge base of available researches on home environmental factors and personality characteristics of secondary school adolescents. Also the findings of the study, when published will add to knowledge of adequate parenting that will enhance interaction that can build or inculcate positive personality characteristics, especially in the dimensions of child‟s physical, social, mental, emotional and personal conditions right at home before the child enters the school environment. Parents will be sensitized through seminars, workshops and by electronic media the parental role in personality development of the child. The result of this study when published will also provide empirical evidence on family relationship that can enhance or mar children‟s personality characteristics, especially in the dimensions of parent-parent, parents-children, and children-children (siblings) relationships in the home. Family relationship or interaction is very crucial for both parents and the children especially the adolescents. Knowledge gained through publication of the findings of the study will also to an extent minimize some acts by parents that induce child-abuse and neglect.

Findings of this study will assist educators, psychologists, social workers, guidance-counselors, school administrators and government (through awareness campaigns) to look beyond the intellectual ability, interest and other traditional sources as the sole causes of underachievement of students. Rather they should look at the home background of the adolescent, whether the home environment is such a stimulating one, which would enhance positive development physically, mentally, socially, morally and psychologically. It is hoped that findings of this study will also strengthen the work of counseling psychologists in view of the fact that they provide guidance and counseling services to parents and students, for the realization of their various roles in the family life. This will also help to “nip” in the “bud” the acts of “negative” family relationship that may jeopardize “smooth” and “sweet” fellowship among the members. Findings of this study when published will help to keep educators and school counselors abreast of the necessary records on personality profiles of students for appropriate educational, vocational and personal-social guidance services to students.

1.7 Scope of the Study

This study covers home environmental factors as predictors of personality characteristics of secondary school adolescents in Benue State, Nigeria. Specifically, the study focuses on five (5) home environmental factors and eight (8) personality characteristics as established by Comrey (1970). The five home environmental factors investigated are family relationship, family moral standards, parenting styles, family type (structure) and socio-economic status (SES) of parents of the adolescents, while the five (5) dimensions of Comrey personality characteristics are Trust Vs Defensiveness, Activity Vs Lack of Energy, Emotional stability Vs Neuroticisms, Extroversion Vs Introversion, Masculinity Vs Femininity and empathy Vs 30 egocentricism. The study focuses on how each of the home factors predicts the personality characteristics of the students. The study covers only secondary school adolescents because they are more accessible than those outside the school setting. The study thus covers only SS II students from the “Grant-Aided” secondary schools (public and private) in the three educational zones; A, B and C which make up the political and educational zones in Benue State. SSII were used because they fall within the adolescence period. Also SSII was not an examination class and this made the group readily available for the exercise, unlike their SSIII counterparts who were preparing for their senior school certificate examination. Another reason for the choice of SSII students is that their level of understanding is higher than that of SSI and other junior classes in the secondary school.


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