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Learning theory holds the perspective that all behavior, including criminal behavior, is learned from a person’s surroundings. Social learning theory, a subcategory of learning theory, suggests that individuals learn by watching and imitating and by being rewarded and punished. While there are various specific learning theories, they all suggest that criminal behavior is learned.
They also hold the perspective that how and what an individual learns from his or her environment is significant. This can be illustrated by how, in some neighborhoods, illegally carrying a gun or knife is normal because of the number of individuals carrying weapons for protection, and because those who do not carry guns or knives may find themselves at a distinct disadvantage.