CRIM 101 – LEC 4 – JAN 31
BIOLOGICAL, PSYCHOLOGICAL AND SOCIOLOGICAL THEORIES OF
THE POSITIVE SCHOOL
Used “scientific” methods to explain criminal behavior.
Involved notion of "determinism", as opposed to “free will” or “rational choice”.
Behavior of criminals was pre-determined by their genes or evolutionary
Founder and most prominent member of the Positive School.
Interest in science, medicine and evolutionary theory led Cesare Lombroso in
search of atavistic criminal – a degenerate throw back on earlier forms of
Subsequent positive school efforts focused on feeblemindedness, poor genes,
and criminal body type.
o had to do with a problem with the brain, nor free will, there was a criminal
Study by Richard Dugdale.
Dugdale had limited schooling, became assistant sculptor, tried running
manufacturing business, had nervous breakdown, and became a sociologist.
Dugdale observed young man (apparently feebleminded) on trial in court.
o Questions if there was a criminal gene in the juke family
THE JUKES cont.
Dugdale went back through generations, found petty thieves (never convicted), a
murderer (not convicted), another who broke deaf persons ear trumpet.
Argued that entire family had criminal tendencies due to feeble-mindedness.
Most “evidence” contrived or exaggerated.
FOUR MAIN APPROACHES
General pedigree studies
o The last one is suppose to be an improvement over the previous one.
GENERAL PEDIGREE STUDIES
Look at people who are related to each other, to see whether they behave in
Assume that children of parents who engage in criminal behaviour are more
likely to be criminals themselves because they inherited their parents genes. If one brother is criminal, other brother should have chance of being criminal too,
because of similar genetic make up.
PROBLEMS WITH PEDIGREES
Difficult to say whether criminal behaviour caused by inherited tendencies, or by
Unless raised in different family, with different parents, it could be argued that
parents taught children that criminal behaviour was acceptable.
Children may learn criminal behaviour by watching and imitation behaviour of
Effort to avoid problems associated with general pedigree studies.
Researchers study differences between dizygotic (DZ) and monozygotic (MZ)
DZ (fraternal) twins inherit share only 50% of their genes; MZ (identical) twins
share 100% of their genes.
Concordance = the degree to which behaviour of the twins is similar or dissimilar.
MZ AND DZ TWINS
Studies have suggested that if one MZ twin is a criminal, the other MZ twin is
more likely to be a criminal.
DZ twin less likely to display the same criminal tendencies.
TWINS CAN BE DOUBLE TROUBLE
Fail to take into consideration that most monozygotic twins are raised in the
same environments, have similar social experiences.
Because monozygotic twins look so much alike, they are also more likely to
provoke similar responses from other people than dizygotic twins, who may not
look as much alike.
Study identical (MZ) twins raised by different sets of parents, in different
Control for social class, child-rearing practises, and diet.
Most adoption studies have found relatively low rates of concordance.
Sacco & Kennedy conclude there is “no real scientific basis for…existence of a
Others claim there is measurable degree of association between criminal
behaviour of biological parents and their children put up for adoption at birth.
Examine number, shape, and size of chromosomes.
Focus on existence of extra Y chromosome, or XYY gene. XX chromosome determines gender in women; XY chromosome determines
gender in males.
THE XYY SUPER MALE
Relatively rare in the general population (1 in 1000).
More common in prison population (1 in 100).
Little evidence to suggest that they commit more violent crimes than other males,
or that they are necessarily more aggressive.
Did a study of body types, bigger/ fat people less to be criminals
(endomorph), skinny/lanky people less likely to be criminal (ectomorph),
muscular strong people more likely to be a criminals. (mesomporph)
Sheldon’s 1949 work argued that mesomorph was most likely to become a
criminal, or to engage in violent behavior.
The Gleucks’ 1950 study of 500 delinquent and 500 non-delinquent boys
concluded that delinquent boys were in fact monomorphic than non-
CRIME AND HUMAN NATURE
Wilson and Herrnstein claimed in 1985 book Crime and Human Nature that
offenders tend to be shorter and more muscular than people in the general
Herrnstein (2000, p. 21) has continued to argue that offender populations “are
more likely to be mespmorphic (i.e., muscular, large boned)
SOME CRITICAL PERSPECTIVE
Ignores the fact that many prisoners lift weights while in prison, thus
explaining why they might be more muscular than average.
Stronger, more muscular individuals often come out on the winning side of
fights, and end up being categorized as the aggressors.
Less muscular individuals often come out on losing end of fights, and come to
be viewed as victims.
THE MESOMORPH SCALE
Define mesoporph, endomorph, ectomorph.
INTELLIGENCE AND CRIME
Intelligence and Delinquency: A Revisionist Review, published by Hindelang and
Hirschi in 1977.
Say that sociologists (and by default criminologists) have always rejected
individualistic explanations of delinquency.
Sociologists tend to emphasize factors such as race, class, and gender.
HIRSCHI AND HINDELANG Hirschi and Hindelang (1977) reported on six (then recent) studies of relationship
between IQ and delinquency.
Concluded that IQ was as least as important as race and social class in
Also concluded that differences between race and class did not account for
differences in IQ.
CRIME AND THE BELL CURVE
Herrnstein & Murray (1994). The BELL CURVE: INTELLEGENCE AND CLASS
STRUCTURE IN AMERICAN LIFE.
Talk about society’s increasing emphasis on higher education, knowledge and
Argue that people with low IQ are unable to cope with demands of post-industrial
IQ AND SOCIAL CLASS
Most criminals “come from the wrong side of the tracks”.
Most people with low IQ “come from the wrong side of the tracks”.
o Wrong side of tracks = low IQ = criminal
INTELLIGENCE AND CRIME cont.
Lower IQ could have negative effect on school performance.
Could lead to increased risk of dropping out.
Dropping out could lead to increased risk of not acquiring marketable work skills.
FIVE DIFFERENT HYPOTHESES
The school failure hypothesis
The susceptibility hypothesis
The differential arrest hypothesis
The differential adjudication hypothesis
The differential disposition hypothesis
THE SCHOOL FAILURE HYPOTHESIS
Learning disabilities may contribute to school failure.
Becomes frustrating and self-perpetuating.
Student may become angry and aggressive as a consequence.
Ends up being identified by teachers as “troublemakers”.
THE SUSCEPTIBILITY HYPOTHESIS