CRIM 402 Study Guide - Fall 2019, Comprehensive Final Exam Notes - Libido, Zygosity, Zygote

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CRIM 402
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CRIM 402 Weeks 1 to 3 - Notes
Unit 1: Introduction to Biology and Crime
Textbook Chapter 1 Introduction to Biology and Crime
Many of the biological bases for particular criminal behaviours are, at least potentially, treatable. Any
genetic links to behaviour, and therefore potentially criminogenic behaviour, will be indirect links to
a predisposition for a behaviour. None are direct links. Genetics can predispose people toward
behaviour, but not crime. Such behaviour may result in criminal activity. Must also consider other
biological explanations hormone levels, effects of disease, diet, neurotransmitters, brain injury, and
prenatal problems.
Question of Biology, Crime, and the Environment
While we’re all born with a brain, what we do with it is a complex mixture of the brain itself, the
inherited part, and the social environment, which is the most important part. Biological relationship
to crime has been misused in the past (ethnic cleansing, slavery, genocide of WWII), causing the
academic boycott of considering genetic and biological explanations. These atrocities were not based
on science, but rather prejudices. Biological view offers more hope for those afflicted with criminal
predisposition than social explanations, because they can be treated and possible changed.
Promise of Biological Research
DNA does not mean destiny. Any potential biological influences result only in a predisposition
towards a particular behaviour. There is no gene for crime and none will ever be found. Biology and
social environment always work together. Biological studies of crime must look at both environment
and physiochemistry in order to compare the two and determine the effect of one versus the other.
Some clear biological influences on behaviour are: menstruation, pregnancy, and puberty. No complex
behaviour can be entirely biological in origin. Phenylketonuria (PKU): Old days, % of children born
with disease. Genetically based disease where children who have it are unable to digest or metabolize
phenylalanine, an amino acid essential for life. Cystic Fibrosis: Traced to just one gene. People with
CF lack this gene and develop serious lung problems resulting in early death. Serotonin: Substance
the brain uses to facilitate communication among cells. Low serotonin levels found to result in
impulsivity and violence.
Further Causations
This is an interactionist biological explanation of behaviour to approach crime. Difficult to define
crime because it is a social construct. Breaking the law cannot simply be equated with a biological
cause such as disease or genetics. The disease metaphor as a definition of crime is highly limited.
Crimes that are mala in se are those that are inherently bad. Crimes that are mala prohibita are those
that are considered bad because they are prohibited. Do not usually consider biological influences for
socially constructed labels. When considered crime in the context of biology, violent crime is the
usually concern. Violent crime is typically viewed as being inherited or caused by physical determinants
such as hormones. However, some research shows a predisposition to nonviolent crime. Several
cautions should be considered in relationship to all studies of crime: Adolescence: Adolescent crime
is so common it is the norm and can skew research. Research sample: People with criminal records
are not necessarily representative of all people who have committed offenses. Self-reporting: May
not be accurate. Representative statistics: Many crimes, even violent ones, are not reported. Biased
sampling: Comparisons are usually made between criminals and non-criminals (the control group).
Criminals may be in the control group if they are not incarcerated. Ephemeral crimes: Delinquency
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is often a transient phase. Mistaken explanations: Must take into consideration heritable attributes
that in turn have social implications (i.e., skin colour).
History of Biology and Crime
Gall established phrenology, the relationship between mental attributes and head size and shape.
Lambroso’s modern biological theory on atavisms, to identify criminals based on facial types (i.e.,
sloping foreheads). Sheldon classified people into three different groups, believing certain behaviours
correlated with each of the three body types. Endomorphs: soft, rounded bodies. Mesomorphs:
athletically built. Ectomorphs: thin people. Body build may be linked to delinquency and crime, but
the link is probably through social learning, not genes. Later social and psychological explanations of
crime by Durkheim, Marx, Weber, Freud. Darwin’s Theory of Evolution revolutionized science, but
due to people misreading his work, dangerous and erroneous relationships between evolution and
crime began. Galton (Darwin’s cousin) established eugenics, believing that everything could be a
heritable trait, including poverty and crime. Positive eugenics is encouraging those who were
considered most fit to reproduce more. It was eventually replaced by negative eugenics and many
people were sterilized or killed.
Online Reading Wright (1998)
Early criminological theories saw biological basis for crime, for example Lambroso’s atavisms. Crime
came from inherited physiology or feeblemindedness. Replaced by mid 19th century by sociological
explanations for crime. Crime considered the result of social disorganization and social learning.
Biological approaches condemned as ‘scientific racism’ following forced sterilization and genocide in
the WWII era. Biological explanation resurgence, for example, Moffit’s life-course persistent or
adolescent limited offenders, and concordance rates from twin studies. Also, suggestion of criminal
relationship to hormones and diet. Studied 55 textbooks from two periods (1961-1970 and 1987-1996)
and rated their positions on biological explanations of crime, ranging from all sociological to entirely
biological. Data suggests a resurgence of interests in biological approaches in criminological theory.
Common strategy used by criminologists to discredit biological theories is to link them to sexism,
racism, and eugenics. This fosters the taboo. Sociological texts less likely to have interdisciplinary
perspectives but biological texts discuss nature and nurture.
Unit 2: Basic Biological Concepts
Textbook Chapter 2 Basic Biological Concepts
Natural Selection
All living organisms adapt to their environments and these adaptations lead to increased survival and
reproductive success for organisms that possess them. Adapting does not mean a single organism can
adapt it cannot. Adaptation occurs over many generations. A trait is selected because it is favourable,
but it relates entirely to the environment and time frame. Adaptation can take many forms: structural
modifications; biochemical pathways; and behavioural adaptations. Structural modifications:
Development of complex organs to enhance survival and reproduction. E.g. eyes, ears, and wings.
Biochemical pathways: development of metabolism, photosynthesis, and respiration. Behavioural
adaptations: Increase survival and reproductive success. The process that results in these adaptations
is natural selection, which is the differential survival and reproduction of individuals within a
population. Three conditions are necessary for natural selection to occur: there must be variation
among individuals; the variation must be heritable; and the individual must differ in its ability to
survive or reproduce depending on the trait. Variation different characteristics/traits. Can be
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