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Encyclopedia of Criminological Theory

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Encyclopedia of Criminological Theory

Francis T. Cullen & Pamela Wilcox

Pub. date: 2010 | Online Pub. Date: November 23, 2010 | DOI:http://dx.doi.org/10.4135/9781412959193 | Print ISBN: 9781412959186 | Online ISBN: 9781412959193 | Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.

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Burgess, Robert L., and Ronald L. Akers: Differential Association-Reinforcement Theory

John K. Cochran

Robert L. Burgess and Ronald L. Akers collaborated in 1966 to reformulate Edwin H. Sutherland's differential association theory of criminal behavior in an effort to make the theory more amenable to empirical testing by making its key theoretical concepts open to measurement. They did so by integrating the basic elements of operant conditioning with Sutherland's nine theoretical propositions. The product of this theoretical integration, differential association-reinforcement theory, attempted to explicitly specify the learning process and mechanisms only implied by Sutherland. This integration converted the nine theoretical propositions from Sutherland's theory into seven propositions. At the time of Burgess and Akers's reformulation, Sutherland's differential association theory had remained relatively unchanged. In Sutherland's last reformulation of his theory of differential association in 1947, he rephrased it to explicitly state that criminal behavior is learned, but no theoretical elaboration or specification of the learning process was provided. Thus, Sutherland's differential association theory, explicitly ...

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