CRIM 101 Lecture Notes - Lecture 4: The Bell Curve, Cesare Lombroso, Bad Hindelang

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Published on 21 Apr 2013
School
Simon Fraser University
Department
Criminology
Course
CRIM 101
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.
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*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.
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*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
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Document Summary

Used scientific methods to explain criminal behavior. Behavior of criminals was pre-determined by their genes or evolutionary condition. Involved notion of determinism, as opposed to free will or rational choice . 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. 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. Look at people who are related to each other, to see whether they behave in a similar manner.

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