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Lecture 4

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Simon Fraser University
CRIM 101
Barry Cartwright

BIOLOGICAL, PSYCHOLOGICAL AND SOCIOLOGICAL THEORIES OF CRIME 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 condition *CESARE LOMBROSO  Founder and most prominent member of the positive school  Interest in science, medicine and evolutionary theory led Cesare Lambroso in search of atavistic criminal- a degenerate throwback on earlier forms of evolution  Subsequent positive school efforts focused on feeblemindedness, poor genes, criminal body type *THE JUKES  Study by Richard Dugdale.  Dugdale had limited schooling, became assistant sculptor, tried running manufacturing business, had nervous breakdown, became a sociologist  Dugdale observed young man (apparently feebleminded) on trial in court  Dugdale went back through generations, found petty thieves (never convicted|), a murderer (not convicted), another who broke deaf person’s ear trumpet  Argued that entire family had criminal tendencies due to feeble-mindedness  Most “evidence” contrived or exaggerated. FOUR MAIN APPROACHES  general pedigree studies  twin studies  adoption studies  karyotype studies *GENERAL PEDIGREE STUDIES  Look at people who are related to each other, to see whether they behave in a similar manner  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 higher 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 social environment  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 imitating behaviour if their parents * TWIN STUDIES  Effort to avoid problems associated with general pedigree studies  Researchers study differences between dizygotic (DZ) and monozygotic (MZ) twins.  DZ (fraternal) twins 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 similar 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 *ADOPTION STUDIES  Study identical (MZ) twins raised by different sets of parents, in different environments  Control for social class, child-rearing practices, and diet MUDDY WATERS  Most adoption studies have found relatively low rates of concordance  Sacco & Kennedy conclude there is “no real scientific basis for…the existence of a crime gene”  Others claim there is measurable degree of association between criminal behaviour of biological parents and their children put up for adoption at birth. *KARYOTYPE STUDIES  Examine number, shape, 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 (one 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 *SHELDON’S SOMATOTYPES Endomorph, ectomorph, mesomorph *THE MESOMORPH  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 more mesomorphic that non-delinquent boys CRIME AND HUMAN NATURE  Wilson and Herrnstein claimed in 1985 book Crime and Human Nature that offender tend to be shorter and more muscular than people in the general population  Herrnstein (2000, p. 21) has continued to argue that offender populations “are more likely to be mesomorphic (i.e., muscular, large-boned)” SOME CRITICAL PERSPECTIVE  Ignores the fact that many prisoners lifts weight 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 the 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 INTELLIGENCE AND CRIME  Intelligence and Delinquency: A Revisionist Review, published by Hindeland 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  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 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 predicting delinquency  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: Intelligence and class structure in American life  Talk about society’s increasing emphasis on higher education, knowledge and technical expertise  Argue that people with low IQ are unable to come with demands of post-industrial society *IQ AND SOCIAL
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