Including genetics, biochemical factors, the central nervous system, the autonomic
nervous system, personality, mental disorder, intelligence.
What perspective of criminology does fit with? ____positivism____________
We will consider the assertion that there are biological explanations for crime.
Early theorists like Lombroso theorized that crime is a sickness resulting from biological
dysfunction or disorder. If treatment wasn’t possible, then the only solution was “lock
em up and throw away the key”.
Now, there is generally an awareness that biology cannot be the whole answer, but
biological characteristics can increase the likelihood of antisocial involvement.
A. Genetics – one of the fastest growing and most significant areas of modern science.
Do you carry certain genes that are indicators of a disease? Genetic engineering ▯
genetically modified foods
a) Unsophisticated look at family trees
e.g. the New York Juke family (known criminal family had many more family members
involved in crime than most other families.
b) A little more sophisticated The “Cambridge Study in Delinquent Development”
(Longitudinal Study began in 1960s) of 357 families found that half of the crime was
committed by 23 families. Do these studies prove genetic link?
It could be social ▯conditioned a certain way.
c) Twin Studies and Adoption Studies (attempt to settle it: hereditary or
If you can hold one factor constant then the other must explain results i.e. if
environment is the same then it must be the genes
STUDIES OF TWINS
Several big studies show that similar criminal behaviour by MONOZYGOYIC TWINS is
higher than similar behaviour by DIZIGOTIC TWINS (35% as opposed to 12%) and
both are higher than for nontwins.
ADOPTION STUDIES – (1977 – Hutchings & Mednick) studies all Copenhagen
adoptees removed at early age to non related adopting parents. They found that boys
with criminal natural fathers were much more likely to become criminals that adoptees
with noncriminal natural fathers.
PROBLEM with twin and adoption studies – The Equal Environment Assumption
1 Twins – we take for granted that they have equal environments – but do they? No,
because mono look the same, they are usually raised closer to each other, treated as they
are more similar so they are more similar.
Adoption – agencies tend to place children in the same types of areas and with the same
types of people as to who their parents were.
Equal environment assumption that isn’t really there.
Should we ignore the genetic link?
Walters (1992) analyzed 38 twin and adoption studies and found a small but not
insignificant link between crime and genetics.
After looking at all the studies he thought that 1117% is explained by genetics 2432% is
explained by environment and the remaining 5065% by unique personal experiences.
d) Some interesting ideas from evolutionary psychology
a) Animal Studies – Ellis (1990) Hypothesis – Some crimes, particularly rape,
assault, child abuses, and property offences are related to powerful genetic forces.
Forced copulation is very common in nonhuman species ▯common for males
because their duty is typically to produce and make sure that their genes survive.
Females reject because they do not think that they are suitable partners ▯not
Animals will abandon or kill their offspring if there are too many to raise, if one
parent abandons them, if the baby is adopted (not genetically close to them) or if
they have low chances of reproductive ability.
A lot of this crime happens by poor males ▯show their worth
Demonstrates the ability to provide in order to get chosen as a mate
EVALUATION OF ELLIS
No proof, is speculative and base don analogical thinking.
2 CONCLUSION CURRENT STAE OF GENETICS RELATED TO
Speculative at this time. We may find genes related to temperament e.g. aggression. Does
this mean these people are predisposed to be criminal?
Not necessarily because they can choose to take their aggression and deal with it by use
of other outlets ▯aggressive jobs (lawyer, MMA, etc)
Interesting that environment in the womb has an effect on one’s life
Combination of genes, not just one gene
Physical traits are polygenetic
We don’t have much of an explanation why similar people do not act the same ▯some of
them do crime and some do not.
Hormones, the secretion of the endocrine glands and some brain cells. Control
metabolism – thyroxin, growth reproduction, sexual development, etc.
Eventually interest turned to effect of hormones on behaviour and the criminal law
e.g. Infanticide and premenstrual tension
Most studies in relation to crime are testosterone, adrenalin, and neurotransmitters
(dopamine, and norepinephrine)
a) Testosterone (plasma testosterone)
Popularly related (a lot of people think, but that doesn’t mean that it is true) to the most
aggressive and antisocial crimes of rape and murder. The claim is