Behaviour change: Better or worse?

Behaviour change: Better or worse?

In 1939, research was conducted to study how a preventive intervention affected a child’s criminal behaviour. For this research, around 506 students were selected, aged from 5 to 13. These children were specifically selected, because they were caught in some anti-social acts, such as stealing, absenteeism, etc.


As a part of the research, these kids were divided into two groups. One of the groups was provided with special treatment, consisting of counselling and mentoring. The other half was left alone. Students, who were encouraged to take the treatment, remained in the program for an average period of five years. After seventy years of this research, four evaluations were made, of which the first and the second gave the same results, i.e., there were no behavioural differences between the group who received the treatment and the one which did not.


However, the third research, which was conducted in the 1970s, gave different results. To the researchers’ surprise, they noticed that children, who were made to attend counselling classes, were likely, to commit more crimes than the children who did not. After a couple of decades, Brandon Welsh, Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Northeastern University, conducted the fourth research. His motive was to check whether there was any difference in the individual’s behaviour after growing old. Apart from Welsh, Gregory Zimmerman, a Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Northeastern University, and his doctoral students Alexis Yohros and Steven Zane were also a part of this research. Together, the team could get a hold of 96.4% of the participants’ records, of which 88.1% were already dead and on further research they found, that 91% of the preventive intervention group and 85% of the control group were the ones who had deceased. This result confused Welsh, as he could not understand why his result did not match with the study conducted earlier. The only explanation he could come up with was that the result of the previous evaluations was all part of a singular event.


Teena Rose Tom

Teena Tom

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