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The study investigated the influence of Groupthink, Group cohesiveness and Deindividuation on Criminal behaviour of Undergraduates of Akwa Ibom State University, Ikot Apkaden campus, Mkpat Enin Local Government Area and Obio Akpa campus, Oruk Anam Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria. A total of three hundred and twelve (312) undergraduates made up of 166 males (54.1%) and 146 females (45.9%). These participants were selected using simple random sampling technique. Their ages ranged from 17-35 years and their mean age was 22.52 years. Groupthink scale (Baptist, 2015), Psychological collectivism scale (Jackson, Colquit, Wesson & Zapata-Phelan, 2006), Functions of identity scale (Serafini & Adams, 2014) and Crime behaviour factor scale (Animasahun, 2011) were the instruments used for data analysis. The study utilized the Ex-post facto design. Multiple linear regression analysis was used for data analysis. The findings of the study showed that Groupthink independently predicted criminal behaviour (β = -13.04; t = -2.34; p<.05), Group cohesiveness did not independently predict criminal behaviour, but had a direct relationship with criminal behaviour (β = 0.24; t = 0.04; p>.05). Deindividuation was not an independent predictor of criminal behaviour (β = -7.10; t = -1.35; p>.05). The findings showed that, Groupthink, Group cohesiveness and Deindividuation jointly had an impact on Criminal behaviour (F (3, 308) = 2.68; p<.05). Implications, conclusions, suggestions and further studies were made in line with the findings of this study.



1.1       Background of the Study

Criminal behaviour amongst undergraduates has been a major issue in the school system in Nigerian universities. Literally, Paranjape (2011) defined criminal behaviour as a person’s actions or inaction which tends to undermine the grand norms governing a given society such action may be tantamount to violation of the social contract and mutual consensus entered into by members of the society. Behaviour that does not conform to the cultural norms or laws of a given society at a particular time and is often times negatively sanctioned, is referred to as criminal. This implies that non-conformity to a given set of laws or norms that are accepted by a significant number of people in a community, society or group is a criminal act. Society highly values conformity to socially accepted behaviour and expects it to be accepted and upheld by its members.

Criminal behaviour takes various forms. Bribery and corruption is one of the criminal behaviours exhibited amongst some students and lecturers in higher institutions. This menace is eating up the growth of Nigeria, because, undergraduates who had indulged in corrupt practices when in school will also do the same when given an opportunity to lead in the society. With the high rate of corruption in Nigeria, it can be said that, most of these corrupt leaders might have involved themselves in one criminal act or the other when they were in school

Hallack and Passion (2007) in their work pointed out that, corruption constitutes a serious threat to the successful achievement of educational goals. There are various degrees of corrupt practices.

Nta (2012) reported that, from petitions of students, members of the university staff, unions and others stakeholders, corrupt practices in the university system includes; admissions racketing, examination misconduct, falsification of academic records such as transcripts and a few to mention. Igbinovia (2003) observed that, there is hardly any Nigerian living today that can claim that he or she has not advertently or inadvertently, by commission or omission been involved in crimes or benefitted directly or indirectly from criminality or deviance or the commission of crimes or the proceeds of criminality. The various forms of criminal behaviour will be streamlined to three aspects which are; examination misconduct, sexual harassment and vices.

Examination misconduct as a criminal behaviour is mostly practiced by undergraduates. It refers to cheating in examination conditions to get unearned marks with the aim of passing an examination. Some of the ways or methods of exams misconduct includes; the use of bullets (small papers with answers on), impersonating, sorting, leakage of examination questions, swapping of exams sheets and to name a few. Some factors which enhance students are the relationship they have amongst some lecturers known as the connivance between some students and some lecturers, poor supervision and invigilation, overcrowding, low morale amongst lecturers and laziness on the part of the students, un-conducive study environments and the prevailing morale decadence in Nigeria. Pratt (1981) stated that, students are likely to cheat when they are not prepared for examinations. Examination malpractice has become an epidemic in the Nigerian university system. It is so embarrassing that the federal military government in 1984 promulgated a decree (Decree 20) to deal with exams malpractice; Part of it reads; any person who fraudulently or with intent to cheat or secure any unfair advantage to himself or any other person, or in abuse of his office, produces or sells any question paper intended for examination of persons, at any examination specified in section 3 (27) (c) of this decree, shall be guilty of an offence and on conviction be sentenced to 21 years imprisonment (Fagbemi, 1998, p.17). Despite these laws, examination misconduct has been on the increase and this is due to the non-implementation of the laws, reasons for it being, the low moral standards in most universities, students fear of failure, inadequate preparedness and 419 syndromes that have eroded deeply into the life of the society. Fayombo (2004) outlined the reasons for examination malpractice into psychological and sociological factors. Due to the overdependence of certification in Nigeria, it has led the populace to acquire certificates either legally or illegally. This has had a negative impact on the quality of education to the extent that a lot of graduates cannot defend their Degrees.

Sexual harassment is regarded a criminal behaviour due to its negative impact on most undergraduates. Sexual harassment is defined as unsolicited, unwelcome and unreciprocated sexual overture from a person to elicit unwanted sexual relations from another person Aluede (2000). Sexual harassment could be physical (rape) and verbally.

According to Scheffer (2000) sexual harassment in schools is described as an unwelcome behaviour of a sexual nature that makes one uncomfortable, fearful or powerless, and may interfere with the victim’s academic work. Various causes which could lead to the antecedent of sexual harassment include; lack of norms of morality, personality disorder, abuse of power, indecent dressing and lust. This has been the major source of sexual harassment amongst undergraduates. The reason why this behaviour is not frequently reported is that, the victims are always embarrassed due to the stigmatization accompanied by it, reporting becomes impossible.

Vices amongst undergraduates have been a calamity to the university system. It is quite difficult to see a university that is void of vices. Vice is a latin word ‘victium’ meaning defect. It is defined as a bad habit or immoral activities. Examples include; prostitution, cultism, murder, disruption of properties and a few to mention. Emphasis would be based on cultism. Cultism has grown rapidly in recent years in some universities. In the University of Uyo, cases of cultism have being a serious problem. Students have reportedly being harassed by cult groups around the campuses. Inyang (2017), states; cultists tends to intimidate other students and lecturers into carrying out their will, thereby causing terror in the university system.

Peer pressure is a major cause of youth’s involvement in social vices. Students especially the 100 level students are mostly victims of cultist activities. Students join cult for some reasons such as; the quest for power, desire for revenge, search for protection and peer group influence. Cultism in Nigeria has been a major cause of death. In May 2017, a student of the Cross River University of Technology (CRUTECH) and other unidentified persons were killed in a cult clash between the Vikings and the KKK confraternity.

Based on the following factors that could lead to the antecedent of criminal behaviour, it is pertinent to note that, group dynamics plays a major role in the antecedent of criminal behaviour.

A factor that may influence criminal behaviour tendency is groupthink.

Groupthink as a psychological concept was initially established in 1972 by Irving Janis. He used the term to describe how certain conditions can lead a group to be highly satisfied with what turns out to be an ineffective decision. Groupthink is a mode of thinking in which members of a highly cohesive group strive for unanimity and consensus, overriding their motivation to realistically appraise alternative courses of action, Janis (1982). This phenomenon according to Janis documented some symptoms such as; stereotyped views of out-groups; negative view of ‘enemy’ make effective responses to conflict seem unnecessary or illusion of unanimity.

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