Critical-Thinking Questions: The Social Bond, Positive and Negative Reinforcement Essay

The Social Bond

According to Dan Okada (2011), Hirschi integrated the aspects of social disorganization, labeling, differential association, containment, and anomie in order to propose the elements of the social bond. The bond contains four vital elements: “attachment, commitment, involvement, and belief” (Okada, 2011, p. 42) all of which create a “bond to the conventional order” (Okada, 2011, p. 42) when fused together. It is stated that if the bond is strong, there are increased chances of prosocial behaviors and activities, whereas the opposite would mean that crime is more likely to occur (Okada, 2011).

Among the aspects relevant to the theory of the social bond which are credited to the University of Chicago are the theories of social disorganization. These theories are the “legacy of the University of Chicago” (Okada, 2011, p. 42) for their Department of Sociology is considered to be a sacred ground for America’s criminology. The school began their studies on the city of Chicago, using the various data collected from people, places, and objects found within the area. Without the numerous studies conducted regarding social disorganization by the University of Chicago, Hirschi would not have been able to integrate the aspect of social organization to explain the elements of the social bond (Okada, 2011).

Reinforcement and Punishment

Reinforcement is referred to as an event which occurs after a response and increases the frequency of said response. Reinforcement may either be positive or negative; positive reinforcement involves the “presentation of an event that strengthens or increases the likelihood of a behavior” (Kalat, 2008, p. 219). An example of positive reinforcement would be providing a child with food which he likes after the child does a good deed such as cleaning his room. The positive reinforcement is the food which the child likes, and in order to attain this reinforcement, the child then increases the behavior which helps him attain the desired outcome, which is cleaning his room (Kalat, 2008).

A negative reinforcement, on the other hand, is also a form of reinforcement to increase a particular behavior; however, the reinforcement is the absence of a particular event (Kalat, 2008). For example, a mother often nags her child to wash the dishes, the negative reinforcement is the nagging, and in order to avoid it, the child, in turn, washes the dishes.

On the other hand, punishment “occurs when a response is followed by an event such as pain” (Kalat, 2008, p. 222); unlike reinforcement which aims to increase the frequency of a particular response, punishment involves decreasing the frequency of a particular response. Apart from this, punishment may either be an offset or an onset of something. An example of a punishment would be removing a child’s allowance if his grades are bad (Kalat, 2008).

Self-Control Theory and Delinquency

The self-control theory states that poor child-rearing is the result of all forms of crime, for it leads to an individual’s low self-control. It is stated that parents should be able to help their children establish a sense of self-control by the age of eight and if such is not done, this can leads to delinquency (Davies, 2008).

One program which complements this theory is The Incredible Years: Parents, Teachers, and Children Training Series. This program is specifically designed for parents who have children with ages 3 to 12; it focuses on helping the parents improve their child-rearing skills, particularly their disciplinary and monitoring skills. Since parents are trained to discipline their child appropriately, this helps them help their children improve their self-control, thus, decreasing the chances of delinquency (Regoli, Hewitt, & DeLisi, 2011).


Davies, S.J. (2008). Security supervision and management: The theory and practice of asset protection. Oxford: Elsevier, Inc.

Kalat, J.W. (2008). Introduction to psychology. California: Thomson Wadsworth.

Okada, D. (2011). Criminological theory and crime explanation. In M. Maguire & D. Okada (Eds.), Critical issues in crime and justice: Thought, policy, and practice (31-46). California: SAGE Publications, Inc.

Regoli, R.M., Hewitt, J.D., & DeLisi, M. (2011). Delinquency in society: The essentials. Massachusetts: Jones and Bartlett Publishers.

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