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Chapter 3

SOC*2700 Chapter 3

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SOC 2700
C Yule

Friday, Jan 25, 2013 Chapter 3: Biological Factors and Criminal Behaviour - modern biological theories do not argue for biological determinism - they argue that certain biological characteristics increase the probability that individu- als will engage in behaviours - many theories focus on the interaction between biological characteristics and the so- cial environment Background: Physical Appearance and Defectiveness - earliest theorist emphasized physical appearance as the distinguishing mark of the criminal - thought to be inferior biologically producing physical characteristics - physiognomy studied the phase - phrenology studied the external shape of the skull, assuming tit revealed the shape of the brain inside - different parts of the brain were associated with different faculties or functions of the mind Lombroso, The “Born Criminal” and Positivist Criminology - studied anatomical features of the human body - thoughts criminals were biological throwbacks to an earlier evolutionary stage, people more primitive and less highly evolved than their noncriminal counterparts - atavistic - characteristics were deviations in head size and shape, asymmetry of the face, large jaws and cheekbones, unusually large or small ears, fleshy lips, abnormal teeth, long arms, extra fingers or toes, abundant hair or wrinkles - resemble monkeys - later on he broadened his theory arguing there are 3 major classes of criminals: (1) born criminal - atavistic reversions (2) insane criminals - idiots, imbeciles, dementia, al- coholism, (3) criminaloids - did not have any special physical or mental characteristics by whose mental and emotional makeup were such that under certain circumstances they engage in criminal behaviour (majority of criminals) Goring’s Refutation of the “Born Criminal” - Lombroso’s theory generate strong reactions - favourable and unfavourable - he offered to have an impartial committee study his theories and he would retract his theories if the characteristics of each were found to be identical Friday, Jan 25, 2013 - a study by Charles Goring was a response to this challenge - he found no differences between criminals and noncriminals - the only difference he found was that criminals were 1-2 inches shorter than noncrimi- nals and weighed from 3-7 pounds less - he made a theory of hereditary inferiority - later assessments found more support for Lombroso’s theories Body Type Theories - William Sheldon can up with 3 characteristics of physique and temperament 1. Endomorphic - fat, round, relxed, comfortable, “softie”, extrovert 2. Mesomorphic - muscular, active, dynamic person 3. Ectomorphic - lean, fragile, introvert, allergies, chronic fatigue, insomnia - mesomorphs more associated with aggression, emotional instability - criticized for small sample size and not repeatable Family Studies - Goring’s theory of hereditary inferiority - found criminals with frequent and lengthy imprisonment were physically smaller than other people and mentally inferior - he believe these were inherited - he also found high correlations between the frequency and length of imprisonment of one parent and that of the other between the imprisonment of parents and that of their children and between the imprisonment of brothers - could not be explained by social and environmental conditions because he found no relationship between the frequency and length of imprisonment and poverty, nationality, education, birth order, broken homes - there are serious problems with this argument, most important concerns the fact that Goring attempted to establish the effect of heredity by controlling for the effect of envi- ronment - to do this you need to have accurate measurements of all the environmental factors in- volved and he didn’t have this - resulted in an overemphasis on the influence of heredity - because this is so difficult, criminologists for the most part no longer attempt to estab- lish the role of heredity in crime by studying families Twin and Adoption Studies Friday, Jan 25, 2013 - all studies tend to show a greater similarity of criminal behaviour among identical than fraternal twins - the difficulty with this method is that the greater similarity of behaviour of identical twins may be due to a greater similarity in their environmental experiences because identical twins err physic
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