Social Learning Theories: Differential Association Theory

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Social learning theorists believe that, “crime is a product of learning the norms, values, and behaviors associated with criminal activity” (Siegel, 236). In other words, crime is something we learn through various elements of society. For instance, if you go and hang out with a new group of friends at school and they go home, smoke marijuana, feels it’s cool behavior, then you could learn that smoking marijuana is okay since your ‘cool’ friends do it. In social learning theories, there are 3 specific forms; differential association theory, differential reinforcement theory and neutralization theory, which I will discuss more in depth. Differential association theory was developed by Edwin H. Sutherland, which contains several principles. One of those principles is that “criminal behavior is learned, and that “learning is a by-product of interaction,” which means if you interact with those who participate in illegal activities, then an individual can learn those same behaviors by interacting with them (Siegel, 237). Secondly, is that “criminal techniques are learned,” for instance, hot wiring a car (Siegel, 237). “This requires learning the specific direction of motives, drives, rationalizations, and attitudes” (Siegel, 237). Next, “perceptions of the legal code influence motives and drives,” which means what the individual observes in the criminal circle can determine…show more content…
In differential reinforcement, it occurs, “when behavior is reinforced by either rewarded or punished while interacting with others” (Siegel, 240). This theory helps us understand how socialization can condition

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