Have you ever heard of the term “Differential Association”? It’s a theory that explains how people learn criminal behavior.

However, some may wonder whether it’s truly a social learning theory or not. In this article, we’ll explore the concept of Differential Association and whether it falls under the category of social learning theory.

What is Differential Association?

Differential Association is a theory introduced by Edwin Sutherland in the early 20th century. The main premise of this theory is that individuals learn criminal behavior through their interactions with others. According to Sutherland, if an individual associates with people who have favorable attitudes towards crime, they are more likely to engage in criminal activities themselves.

Social Learning Theory

Social Learning Theory is a broader concept that explains how individuals learn behavior through observation and imitation. The premise of this theory is that people can learn behaviors by observing others’ actions and consequences. Social Learning Theory also includes other factors such as reinforcement and punishment.

Is Differential Association Social Learning Theory?

Based on the definitions above, we can see that Differential Association does fall under the category of Social Learning Theory. While Differential Association focuses on the specific case of learning criminal behavior, it still involves individuals observing and imitating others’ actions and attitudes towards crime.

Elements of Differential Association

Let’s take a closer look at the elements involved in Differential Association:

Criticism of Differential Association

While Differential Association is a widely accepted theory, it has also faced criticism. Some argue that it oversimplifies the complex nature of criminal behavior. Additionally, it fails to consider other factors that may influence an individual’s decision to engage in criminal activities, such as biological and psychological factors.

Conclusion

In conclusion, Differential Association is a theory that falls under the category of Social Learning Theory. Through observing and imitating others’ actions and attitudes towards crime, individuals can learn criminal behavior. While this theory is widely accepted, it has also faced criticism for oversimplification and lack of consideration for other factors that may influence criminal behavior.