The Theory Of The Differential Association Theory

2539 Words11 Pages
Various criminological theories have been constructed attempting to determine factors that contribute to how individuals begin to engage in deviant behavior. The Differential Association Theory established in 1947 by Edwin Sutherland, an American Criminologist, evaluates how delinquent behavior is learned through social interaction as well as learning from the legal definitions of laws and crimes. For example, an individual learning definitions that are favorable to breaking the law from peers or persons they are interacting with frequently will be subjected to engage in criminal behavior. This theory is the base of other criminological theories such as the more easily testable theory, The Social Learning Theory studied closely by Akers…show more content…
Early theories such as the differential association theory state that behavior is learned; individuals are not inherently born an evil or deviant human being. The differential association theory has been considered by many criminologists to be the outstanding sociological construction of a more general theory of criminal behavior (Cressey, 1952). The theory states “A person becomes delinquent because of an excess of definitions favorable to violation of law over definitions unfavorable to violation of law but associations may vary also in frequency, duration, priority, and intensity” (Cressy, 1952 p. 44). The theory also consists of nine counterparts. The process in which a person commits a crime is explained by differential association theory. Sutherland (1947) proposed nine contexts in which an individual could begin to engage in criminal behavior. The nine contexts defined by Sutherland are; 1) Criminal behavior is learned, 2) criminal behavior is learned in interaction with peers or other persons through communication, 3) most learning will occur within intimate personal groups, 4) learning includes the techniques of the crime along with the specific motives, drives, rationalizations, and attitudes, and 5) these motives are learned by definitions of the legal codes as unfavorable or favorable, 6) an individual becomes delinquent because of interaction with those favorable to violation of law over those unfavorable to
Get Access