A Summary Of Edwin Sutherland's Differential Association Theory

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Even though Bandura had already created the social learning theory, Edwin Sutherland’s differential association is the core learning theory when understanding social learning theory. Edwin Sutherland’s differential association theory states that criminal behavior is learned in interaction with other persons in a process of communication that takes place primarily in intimate personal groups that include crime motives, rationalizations, and attitudes (Differential Association Theory, n.d.). Differential association may also vary in frequency, duration, priority, and intensity as a person becomes delinquent because of an excess of definitions favorable to violation of law over definitions unfavorable to violation of law (Differential Association Theory, n.d.). Sutherland’s differential association describes motives that cause criminal behavior at a young age, to later become more consistent throughout life.
Another important criminologist apart of the social learning theory was Ronald Akers. Ronald Akers used both the ideals from Albert Bandera’s social learning theory and Edwin Sutherland’s differential reinforcement and recreated his theory by combining the principles from each theory. Ronald Akers reformulation of Bandera’s operant conditioning and Sutherland’s differential reinforcement stated that criminal behavior is learned both in nonsocial situations that are reinforcing or discriminative and through that social interaction in which the behavior of other persons in

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