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Biology and Crime

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Biology and Crime Early Theories of Biology and Crime Modern Approaches Behavioral Genetics Biological Factors Related to Crime Biosocial Theory Policy Implications – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Biology and Crime


1
Biology and Crime
  • Early Theories of Biology and Crime
  • Modern Approaches
  • Behavioral Genetics
  • Biological Factors Related to Crime
  • Biosocial Theory
  • Policy Implications

2
Early Biological Theories (1 of 2)
  • ? Early history of criminology
  • Many early criminologists were physicians
  • General idea the presence of certain physical
    traits makes criminal behavior more likely

3
Early Biological Theories (2 of 2)
  • 1. Phrenology
  • 2. Lombrosos born criminal
  • 3. Physical deficiencies
  • 4. The XYY supermale
  • 5. Somatotype theory

4
Phrenology
  • ? Exterior of the skull reflects the mind
  • ? Bumps on the head indicate criminal tendencies

5
Lombrosos Born Criminal (1 of 3)
  • ? Cesare Lombroso
  • ? 19th-century Italian physician
  • ? Led the movement from classical school to
    scientific positivism
  • ? Major contributions
  • ? Study of the individual offender and crime
    conditions
  • ? Application of statistical methods to data
    collection and analysis, as well as
    multiple-factor analysis
  • ? Use of typological methods to classify and
    study criminals and examine criminological
    phenomena

6
Lombrosos Born Criminal (2 of 3)
  • ? Atavism
  • ? Criminals as evolutionary
  • throwbacks
  • ? Physical traits (Stigmata)
  • Peaked nose (as bird of prey)
  • Sloped forehead, large jaws
  • Strong canine teeth (as with carnivores)
  • General hairiness of the body
  • Low foreheads

7
Lombrosos Born Criminal (3 of 3)
  • ? Types of criminals
  • ? Insane
  • ? Idiots, drug addicts, moral degenerates
  • ? Criminaloids
  • ? Those who have less pronounced physical
    stigmata
  • ? Criminals by passion
  • ? Passion (like love, hate, honor) fueled their
    criminal rage

8
Physical Deficiencies
  • ? Charles Goring
  • ? Criminal behavior related to defective
    intelligence
  • ? Earnest Hooten
  • ? Criminals physiologically inferior
  • ? Physical traits
  • ? Low foreheads
  • ? Pinched noses
  • ? Compressed faces
  • ? Narrow jaws

9
Somatotype Theory (1 of 3)
  • ? Developed by William Sheldon (supported by the
    Gluecks at Harvard)
  • ? Body build (somatotype) linked to
  • ? Behavioral tendencies
  • ? Temperament
  • ? Life expectancy
  • ? Susceptibility to disease

10
Somatotype Theory (2 of 3)
  • ? Basic body types
  • ? Endomorph
  • ? Fat, soft, and round
  • ? Tend to be extroverts
  • ? Ectomorph
  • ? Thin and wiry
  • ? Easily worried, sensitive, and introverted
  • ? Mesomorph (most criminals)
  • ? Muscular
  • ? Gregarious, aggressive, assertive, and action
    oriented

11
Somatotype Theory (3 of 3)
  • ? Explanations
  • ? Those with muscular builds tend to enjoy the
    physical activity involved in crime.
  • ? Mesomorphic body type may have an advantage in
    the rough-and-tumble activities of street crime.
  • ? Mesomorph is perceived as a threat and is
    therefore more likely to be arrested and/or
    incarcerated.

12
The XYY Supermale
  • Chromosomal abnormality (extra Y chromosome)
  • ? May be more likely to engage in criminal
    behavior (but not violent behavior)
  • ? Extremely rare chromosome structure (less than
    0.1 of total male population)
  • ?

13
Policy Implications of Early Biological Research
  • ? Focused on single, direct cause of crime that
    cannot be changed
  • ? Policy implication Eugenics
  • Remove these individuals from society through
    forced sterilization, internment in camps, or
    death
  • Eugenics movement waned after WWII

14
The demise of early positivism
  • 1. Poor theory
  • Single biological trait as direct cause of crime.
  • 2. Poor/biased research
  • Any small criminal/non-criminal difference were
    assumed to reflect the superiority of
    non-criminals
  • 3. Dangerous policy implications
  • Eugenics movement
  • Largely discredited by Sociologists by 1950.

15
Modern Biological Approach (2 of 2)
  • 1. Behavioral genetics
  • 2. Biological correlates of criminal behavior
  • 3. Biosocial theory
  • 4. Evolutionary theory (sociobiology)

16
Behavioral Genetics (1 of 5)
  • Can criminality be inherited?
  • Trying to separate nature (genes) from nurture
    (environment)
  • ? Family studies
  • ? Twin studies
  • ? Adoption studies
  • ? Molecular genetics

17
Behavioral Genetics (2 of 5)
  • Family studies
  • ? Early studies traced family history (Jukes)
  • ? Modern studies look at parents crime (Sampson
    and Laub)
  • ? Findings Parental crime consistently predicts
    childrens criminal behavior.
  • ? Criticism Environment (poor parenting, shared
    environment) could easily explain this finding.

18
Behavioral Genetics (3 of 5)
  • Twin studies
  • ? Compare monozygotic (MZ) and dizygotic (DZ)
    twins
  • ? MZ twins have higher concordance rates than DZ
    twins Danish Study (Christiansen, 1979)
  • MZ52
  • DZ22
  • ? Criticism
  • ? People may treat MZ twins more similarly
  • ? MZ twins more likely to share friends
    (including delinquent peers)

19
Behavioral Genetics (4 of 5)
  • Adoption studies
  • ? Compare criminal record of adopted children
    with their biological and adoptive parents.
  • ? Findings Childrens criminal behavior relates
    more to biological parents.
  • ? Criticism Adoption agencies might have biased
    placements.

20
Cross Fostering Analysis Mednick et al. (1984)
Environment
Genetic Effect
21
Behavioral Genetics (5 of 5)
  • Molecular genetics
  • ? Isolates particular genes that may relate to
    crime
  • DNA
  • Bases (A,T,C,G)
  • Gene
  • Gene-linkage
  • Hans Brunner Case as OGOD
  • Human Genome Project

22
Many biological factors may contribute to
criminal behavior
  • 1. Neurological factors
  • 2. Autonomic nervous system
  • 3. Biological harms
  • 4. Hormones

23
Neurological Factors (1 of 2)
  • ? Direct measures of the brain
  • ? Prefrontal cortex
  • ? Executive functions (e.g., cognition,
    attention, impulsivity)
  • ? MRI and PET scans analyze brain structure and
    activity
  • ? Differences in the frontal lobe exist between
    criminals and noncriminal control groups

24
Neurological Factors (2 of 2)
  • ? Neurochemical measures
  • ? Neurotransmitters (like serotonin) allow cells
    to communicate with each other.
  • ? Low levels of serotonin are sometimes linked
    with impulsive and aggressive behavior
  • Monoamine oxidase A (MAOA) gene implicated in
    several studies
  • Hans Brunner study
  • Interaction between specific forms of the gene
    and violence/crime (New Zealand study)

25
Autonomic Nervous System
  • ? Controls how the body reacts to stimuli (heart
    rate, gland secretions)
  • ? Some criminals have lower resting heart rates
    than noncriminals.
  • ? Studies of skin conductance (sweat) yield mixed
    results.
  • ? Criminals potentially have low levels of
    arousal.

26
Biological Harms (1 of 3)
  • ? Perinatal risks linked with criminality
  • ? Smoking (cigarettes, marijuana)
  • ? Alcohol consumption (fetal alcohol syndrome)
  • ? Delivery complications
  • ? Low birth-weight children
  • ? More pronounced effect in unstable families

27
Biological Harms (2 of 2)
  • ? Environmental toxins
  • ? Lead exposure
  • ? Highly toxic substance (especially for young
    children)
  • ? Found in lead paint and leaded gasoline
  • ? Can cause serious health and behavioral
    problems
  • ? Linked to delinquent behavior

28
Biosocial Theory
  • ? Combinations of environmental and biological
    risk cause criminal behavior
  • 1. Life-course-persistent offending
  • 2. Personality-based theory
  • 3. Female delinquency

29
Life-Course-Persistent Offending
  • ? Developed by Terrie Moffitt
  • ? Adolescent-limited (AL) offenders
  • ? Criminal behavior limited to adolescence
  • ? Life-course-persistent (LCP) offenders
  • ? Chronic offending starts early in life
  • ? Argue that LCP path is caused by neurological
    deficits and ineffective parenting

30
Personality-Based Theory
  • ? Hans Eysenck
  • ? Personality traits driven by underlying biology
    cause crime.
  • ? Children with low arousal will be difficult to
    socialize.
  • ? In criminal families, low arousal might prevent
    children from learning criminal behavior.

31
Female Delinquency
  • ? Early onset of puberty is linked to criminal
    behavior.
  • ? Caspi et al. This is true for girls in coed
    schools, but not for those in all-girls schools.
  • ? Conclusion Girls who start puberty early
    attract the attention of older, crime-prone
    males, which may lead to delinquency. Good
    example of a biology x environment interaction.

32
Evolutionary Theory (1 of 2)
  • ? Uses principles of evolution to explain modern
    human behavior
  • ? Research
  • ? Rape
  • ? Cads and dads theory
  • ? Criticism
  • ? Difficult if not impossible to test
  • ? Evidence sometimes runs counter to predictions

33
Evolutionary Theory (2 of 2)
  • ? Rape
  • ? Evolutionary processes allow males who are
    pushy and aggressive in the pursuit of sex to
    pass on their genes successfully.
  • ? Cads and dads theory
  • ? Alternative strategies for reproductive success
  • ? Cadspretend caregivers who really want to
    reproduce with as many females as possible
  • ? Dadsinvest time and energy to help nurture and
    raise offspring

34
Summary
  • ? Many biological factors appear to be related to
    criminal behavior
  • ? Inherited
  • ? Results of biological harm
  • ? Biological factors contribute to criminality in
    certain environmental circumstances.
  • ? Biosocial Theories

35
Biological Theories Criticisms
  • ? Ignores some types of crimes
  • ? White-collar
  • ? Organized
  • ? Political crime
  • ? Focuses on aggression or antisocial behavior in
    children and street crime in adults

36
Policy Implications (1 of 2)
  • ? Still fear of ethical problems
  • ? Biology not necessarily destiny
  • ? Provide unsound justifications for the control
    of minority populations
  • ? New eugenics
  • ? Gene therapy
  • ? Discrimination based on presence of biological
    risk indicators

37
Policy Implications (2 of 2)
  • ? The upside? Criminality as a public health
    problem
  • ? Prenatal care for at-risk mothers
  • ? Strengthen environmental counterbalances for
    children with biological risk indicators
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