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5.10: Learning Theories

  • Page ID
    43610
    • pexels-photo-923681.jpg
    • Contributed by Alison S. Burke, David Carter, Brian Fedorek, Tiffany Morey, Lore Rutz-Burri, & Shanell Sanchez
    • Professors (Criminology and Criminal Justice) at Southern Oregon University
    • Sourced from OpenOregon

    before food was in sight. The dogs began to salivate when they heard the assistants’ footsteps. The dogs were associating the oncoming footsteps with the upcoming food. This type of learning was called classical conditioning.

    Classical Conditioning

    Punishment Exercise

    How does the Criminal Justice System positively punish offenders? How does the Criminal Justice System negatively punish? Give examples of both.

    [1] His attempt tried to explain how age, sex, income, and social locations related to the acquisition of criminal behaviors. Sutherland (1947) presented his theory as nine separate, but related propositions, which were:

    1. Criminal behavior is learned.
    2. Criminal behavior is learned in interaction with other persons in a process of communication.
    3. The principal part of the learning of criminal behavior occurs within intimate personal groups.
    4. When criminal behavior is learned, the learning includes: a) techniques of committing the crime, which are sometimes very complicated, sometimes very simple; b) the specific direction of the motives, drives, rationalizations, and attitudes.
    5. The specific directions of motives and drives are learned from definitions of the legal codes as favorable or unfavorable. In some societies, an individual is surrounded by persons who invariably define the legal codes as rules to be observed, while in others he is surrounded by a person whose definitions are favorable to the violation of the legal codes.
    6. A person becomes delinquent because of an excess of definitions favorable to violation of law over definitions unfavorable to violation of the law. This is the principle of differential association.
    7. Differential associations may vary in frequency, duration, priority, and intensity. This means that associations with criminal behavior and also associations with anticriminal behavior vary in those respects.
    8. The process of learning criminal behavior by association with criminal and anti-criminal patterns involves all of the mechanisms that are involved in any other learning.
    9. While criminal behavior is an expression of general needs and values, it is not explained by those general needs and values, since noncriminal behavior is an expression of the same needs and values.[2]
    [3]

    [4] In other words, where we grow up may influence what we learn about crime, police, government, religion, etc.


    1. Sutherland, E.H. (1947). Criminology (4th ed.). Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott.
    2. Sutherland, E.H. (1947). Criminology (4th ed.). Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott.
    3. Akers, R.L. (1994). Criminological theories. Los Angeles, CA: Roxbury.
    4. Anderson, E. (1999). Code of the street: Decency, violence, and the moral life of the inner city. New York, NY: W.W. Norton.