This paper reports two studies of recognition memory performance in groups of juvenile residential burglars. Memory performance of the burglars was compared in Experiment 1 with police officers and a group of adult householders. In Experiment 2 a second group of juvenile burglars was compared with a group of juvenile offenders who had no experience of housebreaking. All groups were asked first to identify houses in photographs that would be attractive or otherwise to burglars. Subsequently, subjects were given a surprise recognition test where, in some photographs, physical features had been changed. Recognition memory for information about physical features of houses was significantly better for the burglary group than for the police officers, who in turn were better than members of the law‐abiding public. In Experiment 2 the juvenile burglars' recognition memory performance was significantly better than the other offenders. These results are interpreted in terms of the burglary subjects possessing a level of expertise associated with their experience of offending. This is a finding with implications for criminology and for the application of cognitive psychology to crime prevention, an area of considerable practical importance.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)