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Chapter 3

CRIM 103 Chapter 3: Chapter 3 Notes

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CRIM 103
Chantal Faucher

Chapter 3 Origins of Criminal Behaviour: Biological Factors • A common finding is that certain brain and biochemical characteristics appear to predispose some children to exhibit higher levels of aggression and violence • Youngsters who follow an early onset of persistent antisocial behaviour often exhibit biological/neurological abnormalities or deficits, while late-onset offending appears to be more influenced by social factors • Criminologists would agree that genetics and biological factors may play some role in criminality, but the social environment is the most important determinant of criminal behaviour Biopsychologists: Psychologists who study the biological aspects of behaviour to determine which genetic and neurophysiological variables play a part. They generally see human behaviour as the result of a complex interaction between the individual's physiological and social environment • Do not believe that genetics or neurophysiological components are the sole or even primary causal agents of human behaviour • "The social world, as well as the organization of the brain, shapes and modulates genetic and biological processes, and accordingly, knowledge of biological and social domains is necessary to develop comprehensive theories in either domain" Genetics and Antisocial Behaviour • Two categories of genetics research have been featured prominently in studies of human behaviour o Behaviour Genetics o Molecular Genetics Behaviour Genetics: Investigates the role genes play in the formation and development of behaviour Molecular Genetics: Field of biology that studies the structure and function of genes at the level of molecules • Behaviour genetics focuses on examining the role genetics play in the formation and development of human and animal behaviour • It has the advantage of "clearly distinguishing genetic from environmental influences and estimating their relative magnitudes" • Molecular genetics is the field of biology that studies the structure and function of genet studies the structure and function of genes at the molecular level • Contemporary molecular biology is focused on specific genes as foundations for certain patterns of behaviour Behaviour Genetics • Traditional behaviour genetics views behavioural differences as springing from three genetic or environmental sources 1. Those influences attribute to genetic effects 2. Environmental influences shared by siblings 3. Influences that arise from unshared environmental experiences that makes siblings differ from one another • The magnitude of these genetic and environmental influences is usually obtained from statistical analyses that compare identical and fraternal twins Dizygotic Twins (DZ)/Fraternal Twins: Develop from two different fertilized eggs and are no more genetically alike than nontwin siblings Monozygotic Twins (MZ)/Identical Twins: Twins who developed from one fertilized egg and share the same genes. Distinguished from fraternal twins, who do not share the same genes Studies of Twins • The presence of genetic influences does not mean, however, that genes directly cause the behaviour to the exclusion of other influences • Genes are not fixed, static, or immutable • If genes influence half of the total variation in antisocial behaviour, this still leaves considerable rom for environmental influences on the formation of behaviour • They are shared environments, nonshared environments, and concordance Shared and Nonshared Environments Shared Environments: An important concept in twin studies, this refers to the prenatal and life experiences that are common to both twins, such as being raised by the same biological parents • E.g. twins raised by the same biological parents share a common hereditary and home environment Nonshared Environments: An important concept in twin studies, this refers to the living experiences that are different for each twin, such as being raised by different parents Concordance Concordance: A term used in genetics to represent the degree to which related pairs of subjects both show a particular behaviour or condition. It is usually expressed in percentages • Numerous early twin studies using concordance method have indicated that heredity may be a powerful determinant of intelligence, schizophrenia, depressions, neurotic disorders, alcoholism, and criminal behaviour The Twins' Early Development Study Twins' Early Development Study (TEDS): An ongoing longitudinal study of twins conducted in the United Kingdom. It explores behavioural problems as well as progress in language development, cognition, and academic abilities • The study offers one of the most extensive investigations of the developmental patterns of twins to date This study supports that both nature and nurture contribute to human behaviour • • However, it indicates that nature has considerable influence over some behaviour problems • At least one personality feature that has been associated with antisocial behaviour--called callous- unemotional trait--shows very high heritability and little shared environmental influences • Jaffee discovered that the effect of maltreatment on the risk to develop antisocial behaviour was strongest among those at higher genetic risk • There is emerging evidence that suggests the social environment can affect people who are at genetic risk more strongly than previously appreciated • Environmental influences seem to wane somewhat as a person move into adulthood Twin Study of Child and Adolescent Development • Lichtenstein employed a well-researched behavioural scale to measure parental-reported aggression in children ages 8 and 9 • They found genetic factors played an important role in the early onset of aggressive behaviour in children, but appeared to play less important role in the development of delinquent behaviour as reported by male adolescents • McGue found that genetics played a more prominent role in early-onset delinquency, whereas the social environment was more influential in late-onset delinquency • We concluded that the magnitude of genetic and environmental influences on antisocial behaviour is equal for both gender Adoption Studies • Another method used to identify crucial variable in the interaction between heredity and environment is the adoption study, which helps identify environments most conducive to criminality • Crowe found a positive correlation between the tendency of the index group to be antisocial and two other variables: o The child's age at the time of adoptive placement o The length of time the child had spent in temporary care prior to placement • There was significant relationship between the criminality of the son and that of the fathers (biological) • Concluded, that genetic factors continue to exert strong influences in the tendency toward criminality, even though environmental factors also play important roles • If either biological parent had been convicted of a crime, the risk of criminality in the adoptee increased significantly • "It is reasonable to conclude that some people inherit biological characteristics which permit them to be antisocial more readily than others" • Genes may not influence criminal behaviour directly, but genes may act to influence people's susceptibility or resistance to environmental risk factors Molecular Genetics • Wants to answer this question: Which genes predispose to which kinds of antisocial behaviour? MAOA: A gene that appears to paly an important role in preventing antisocial behaviour in humans MAOA-L: Know as the 'warrior gene,' it appears to promote aggressive behaviour in humans • Those people who the MAOA-L gene who were exposed to adversity in their childhoods were significantly more likely to report offending in late adolescence and early adulthood • This study highlights the importance of considering the effects of the environment on genes rather than simply assuming that genes directly cause behaviour Psychophysiological Factors Psychophysiology: The study of the dynamic interaction between behaviour and the autonomic nervous system • The autonomic nervous system is the subdivision of the peripheral nervous system that regulates involuntary functions, such as heartbeat, blood pressure, breathing, and digestion, and is closely connected to the genetic makeup of the individual • Autonomic arousal theory of crime hypothesize that persistent, chronic offenders compared with those with no or little offending history, will exhibit low levels of autonomic arousal across a wide variety of situation and conditions • Low levels of arousal predispose a person to crime because this produces some degree of fearlessness and also because it encourages antisocial stimulation (excitement) seeking • High levels of autonomic arousal, in light of the amount of fear and anxiety involved, encourage childhood socialization because of fear of disapproval and punishment Amygdala: Is a brain structure that is particularly important to consider in light of its role in regulating fear and other emotional responses Temperament Temperament: A natural mood disposition determined largely by genetic and biological f
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