The purpose of this study is to clarify the cognitive structure of juvenile delinquents, i.e. the way of thinking on the social norms and riskiness of their criminal acts. Here especially, the author aims to examine the value structure which delinquents would really have through their actual offences, but not the nominal distinctions of rightness or wrongness of some criminal acts.
The interview method was used to approach this problem. Each subject was asked to recall his offence as much as possible and answer how he permitted of his offence to himself at the criminal situation. The answers were recorded in a definite form exactly as spoken and analysed mainly focusing on their relations with victims. Subjects were 200 male delinquents in a juvenile detention and classification home. The interviews were carried on for three years from March, 1976 to April, 1979.
Main findings are as follows.
(1) The factors eliciting offence depend on the nature of crimes and possible relations between delinquents and victims, i.e. known or unknown. For example, the aggressive feeling based on some recognition of superiority in power to their victim and the justification of the act might possibly become the important factor in violence. Similarly, it seems to be important in extortions and robberies whether the superiority and the risk of being discovered are perceived or not. In theft, the risk perception is also an important factor.
In every case of the crime to unknown victims, we can find an indication that delinquents choose the expedient victims to escape discovery. As to the recognition of victim, the suitable readiness for criminal acts is always found to be an important factor. It is evident that each delinquent has a cognitive structure which is differrent from the general social norms.
(2) How do delinquents recognize the social common idea when they commit criminal acts? Generally delinquents are liable to think whether their acts are crime or not is decided according to the degree of injury engendered, and that their acts are more or less general and permissible in their societies.
(3) It is rarely the case that a delinquent expresses any serious and negative feeling of himself, recalling his offence. Although this tendency would be affected by his relation with the victim, the conflict during his offence and his guilt feeling, the author guesses the above-mentioned way of thinking might also be responsible.
The theme of “treatment typology” was discussed from social psychological point of view. The theme was divided into ten subthemes and was analysed in the framework of socialization. By surveying the studies concerning treatment typology, a model was presented to make clear the conceptual framework in analysing adaptive process of inmates in correctional institutions.
Further, typology as a methodology was discussed to make clear the points to be attended in constructing treatment typology which is pragmatically useful.
Finally, some of the theoretical assumptions upon which the investigation (it will be discussed in Part II of this article) was carried on were stated.