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Chapter 4

CHAPTER 4 NOTES: PSYCHOSOCIAL CONDITIONS AND CRIMINAL MOTIVATIONS

7 pages49 viewsFall 2008

Department
Criminology
Course Code
CRIM 101
Professor
Barry Cartwright
Chapter
4

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CHAPTER 4 NOTES: PSYCHOSOCIAL CONDITIONS AND CRIMINAL
MOTIVATIONS
BIOLOGICAL, PSYCHOLOGICAL AND SOCIOLOGICAL THEORIES OF CRIME
Sacco and Kennedy describe criminological theories as general ( rather than
individual) explanations of why crime occurs (Prof. Cartwright disagrees, more
individual process theories than general)
Good or “valid” theories should be logically constructed, and should be consistent
with what we know about crime
Theories should also be falsifiable- we should be able to test or measure them.
POSITIVISM AND DETERMINISM
Most theories discussed in Chapter 4 of The Criminal Event are positivist theories
Positivism = use of “scientific” methods to study and explain human/criminal
behaviour
Involves a degree of determinism ( i.e. the way people behave is due to
circumstances beyond their control)
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
similar manner
Assume that children of parents who engage in criminal behavior 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 makeup
PROBLEMS WITH PEDIGREES
Difficult to say whether criminal behavior 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 behavior was acceptable
Children may learn criminal behavior by watching and imitating behavior of their
parents.
TWIN STUDIES
Effort to avoid problems associated with general pedigree studies
Researchers study differences between dizygotic (DZ) and monozygotic (MZ)
twins
DZ twins inherit only 50% of their parents' genes; MZ twins 100% of their parents
genes
Concordance = the degree to which behavior of the twins is similar
MZ AND DZ TWINS
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Studies have suggested that if one MZ twin is a criminal, the other MZ twin is
more likely to be 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 then 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
Problem: kids up for adoption are usually lower class, unwanted, poorly fed, etc.
Problem: adopted kids usually matched with similar-looking parents
MUDDY WATERS
Most adoption studies have found relatively low rate 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
behavior of biological parents and their children put up for adoption at birth.
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 (one in 100)
Impulsive, low tolerance for frustration or anxiety (frequently leave school for this
reason)
Seem fascinated by aggression as indicated by hobbies and sports interest
often impulsively aggressive
WHERE’S THE BEEF?
Little evidence to suggest that they commit more violent crimes than other
males, or that they are necessarily more aggressive
SHELDON’S SOMATOTYPES
Extreme endomorphic (fat)
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