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CRIM 300W (51)
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Lecture 6

Week 6 Textbook - Modern Biosocial Perspectives

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Department
Criminology
Course
CRIM 300W
Professor
Jay H
Semester
Fall

Description
MODERN BIOSOCIAL PERSPECTIVES OF CRIMINAL BEHAVIOUR Introduction  Examine perspectives that deal with interaction between physiology and environmental factors  Early attempts emphasized biological influences are more important than social and environmental factors  Examine other physiological factors (hormones, neurotransmitters)  Numerous physiological distinctions can be made between chronic violent offenders and others, but these differences are most evident when physical factors are combined with being raised in poor, disadvantaged environments. Nature vs. Nurture: Studies Examining the Influence of Genetics and Environment  Testing influence of heredity vs. environment to see which had the strongest effect on criminality  Contributed to how our understanding of how much criminality is inherited from parents vs. how much is due to cultural norms  Interaction between the two aspects (genetics and environment) causes crime among individuals in society Family Studies  Early 1900s: Dugdale & the Jukes family and Goddard & the Kallikak family  Assumed crime is inherited, criminality is more likely to be found in certain families  Goddard’s study on the Kallikak family o High proportion of children from that family became criminal o Thought the individuals looked like criminals using Lombroso’s stigmata based on photographs  Later found out the photos were altered to make the subjects look more evil o Criminality is more common in some families because this tendency cannot be shown to be a product of heredity or genetics o All individuals from the same family are products of the same environment o Criminality by the mother had a much stronger influence on the future criminality of the children  2 factors:  Father is often absent while children is being raised 1  Takes much more for a woman to transgress social norms indicating mother is highly antisocial  some indication it is inherited Twin Studies  Examination of identical twins (monozygotic [MZ]) and fraternal (dizygotic [DZ]) twins  Studied concordance, to see whether 2 people share a certain trait o If there is concordance, one criminal twin, look to see if other twin is one too  If genetics plays a major role in determining criminality, MZ twins will have a higher concordance rate than DZ twins  Studies did show that MZ twins had a higher concordance rate than DZ twins but it was strongly criticized o Criticism: MZ twins look alike, dress alike, treated the same by public and expected to behave the same while DZ twins look different and are of different genders  Argue that the high concordance rates was due to the fact MZ twins are treated and expected to behave similar  Twin studies show evidence of hereditary basis for criminality Adoption Studies  Examine predictive influence of the biological parents vs. adoptive parents  Adoptees typically had no interaction with their biological parents and are completely raised by adoptive parents  Mednick study  Highest predictability for future criminality was found if both biological parents and convicted were both criminals  Criminality of biological parent has a bigger predictive effect than adoptive parents  Adopted children who were least likely to become criminal had no parents with a criminal background  This study supported the “nature via nurture” argument as opposed to the “nature vs. nurture” argument, both biological and environment factors contribute the future criminality of youth  However, researchers only focused on youths with criminal biological parents and criminal adoptive parents  Adoptees who had criminal biological parents are had higher likelihood of becoming criminal compared to those with criminal adoptive parents 2 Criminal Biological Not Criminal Biological Parents Parents Criminal Adoptive Parents Most likely Not Criminal Adoptive 2 most likely Least likely Parents  Adoption agencies use selective placement which tend to place adoptees with adoptive families similar to the biological family  This biases the study Twins Separated at Birth  Environments they were raised in could be extremely different  Twin pairs often showed similar tendencies for criminality  Separated twins displayed higher concordance rates than twins who grew up together  Identical twins go out of their way to deviate from their natural tendencies to form an identity  Genetics has a significant impact on human behavior, slightly more significant than environmental factors  Both genetics and environment have a significant impact on criminality Cytogenic Studies: The XYY Factor  Cytogenic studies focus on the genetic makeup of individuals, chromosomal makeup and abnormalities  Genetic mutations such as XXY and XYY formations  First chromosomal mutation recognized as predictor of criminal activity was XYY o Occurs in about every 1 of 1000 males o XYY males more likely to have mental and behavioral disorders o Mutation often linked to property crime rather than violent crime o Extra Y chromosome – makes him more “male-like”  XXY mutation – Klinefelter’s syndrome results in more feminine males o Linked to homosexuality  XYY – higher levels of testosterone produced by the mutation o The more hormones produced, the more likely people will commit criminal and deviant acts  The extent to which male hormones and androgens are increased by the mutation is an important predictor of criminalistic traits Hormones and Neurotransmitters: Chemicals That Determine Criminal Behavior 3  Hormonal changes in females can cause criminal behavior o Commit violent crimes during premenstrual cycle, where woman experience a high level of hormones that make them more “male-like”  Low levels of estrogen compared to progesterone  Impact of hormones on behaviour affects intelligence at different times of the day o AM – performs better on spatial and math tests when people have  hormones and other male hormones o PM – better on verbal tasks when people have  levels of estrogen and other female hormones  Individuals given androgen (male) hormone shots before math tests tend to do better on spatial and math tests than normal o Same apply to giving female hormone shots before verbal/reading tests  High levels of testosterone and other androgen tends to masculinise the brain towards risk taking behavior o Also linked to lower sensitivity to pain, sensory stimulation seeking, right- hemisphere shift of dominance, lower levels of verbal reasoning and empathy  Neurotransmitters – chemicals in the brain and body that help transmit electric signals from one neuron to another o most studied neurotransmitters related to criminal activity:  Dopamine  Linked to feeling good  Chemical that tell us when we are experience good sensations such as good, sex or experience  Illicit drugs (cocaine, methamphetamine) increase levels of dopamine  Extremely high and extremely low levels = deviance  Serotonin  Low levels are linked to criminal offending  Important in all information processing  Vital to interactions with environment  Low levels = problem with general communication and life  Difference between neurotransmitter and hormone: neurotransmitters are electric and hormones are not Brain Injuries  Trauma to the brain 4  Any damage to any part of the brain increases the ris
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