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8 - Biological Predispositions to Crime.docx

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Sociology 2266A/B
Paul- Philippe Pare

Biology and Predispoistions to Crime  Body types and crime o Some evidence suggesting body types are correlated with offending o Logic  Behaviour is partly determined by physical abilities and limitations. Personality and body types are also believed to be linked (more controversial)  i.e. big and strong = better fighter o Three basic body types  Endomorph  Soft and round, overweight  Mesomorph  Athletic and muscular, larger bones  Ectomorph  Thin and fragile, lean, smaller bones o Empirically supported: weak support  Some evidence that offenders are more likely to have mesomorph bodies than non-offenders o Limitations  Relationship probably involves basic rational choice: big people hit little people  Old theory. Does not receive much scholarly attention today.  Brain damage/malformation and crime o Specific brain structures are directly involved with aggressiveness in human and many animals o When brain structures are compromised by tumours, disease, trauma, or malformations, verbal and physical aggressions are more likely (as well as many other behavioural and psychological problems).  Brain  The brain o Prefrontal cortex  Provides ability to plan, reason, concentrate, and adjust behaviour.  Linked with violent behavior and psychopathy  Could explain why some offenders are impulsive and careless about the future  Ability to think of future and restrain is limited o Amygdala  Involved with feelings of fear and other emotions  Reward learning  Linked with anxiety disorders, depression, schizophrenia  Could explain why some offenders are not afraid of sanctions  Brain Damage cont’d o Sources of brain damage  Environmental pollutants  i.e. lead in water  Aging  i.e. alzheimers  Accidents  Car accidents  Heavy and prolonged substance abuse  i.e. Ozzy Ozzbourne  Random process  i.e. stroke o Empirically supported: very well documented evidence  Mice  Lesion in brain triggers aggression/violence  Accidents  Personality changes after car accident o Limitation  rare cause  most offenders do not suffer from brain damage/malformation  Heredity and Crime o Many studies indicate criminals often have close relatives who are also criminals  Biological or social link? o Twin studies are useful to tease out biological vs. social effects  Monozygotic (identical) twins: 100% same genes  Dizygotic (fraternal) twins: 50% same genes on average o Monozygotic twins are more similar than dizygotic twins, suggesting the importance of genetic make-up above and beyond socialization o Adoption studies are also useful to assess the effect of genes on criminal behaviour % of adopted sons convicted of crime Biological parents: criminals Biological parents: non-criminals Adoptive parents: criminals 24.5 14.7 Adoptive parents: non-criminals 20.0 13.5  Heredity and Crime o Bio parent more effect (never even met them) than adoptive (socializers) parents o Biology matters above and beyond socialization  Prenatal Factors o The developing fetus, and fetus’ brain more spcifucally, is fragile and vulnerable to mother’s experiences o Can explain brain damage and heredity in crime  i.e. alcoholic mother during pregnancy is related to alcoholism of offspring  alternative to genetic o Prenatal risk factors (in the mother’s life)  Alcohol or drug abuse
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