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Chapter 6

WDW205 Textbook Summary - Chapter 6

Woodsworth College Courses
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William Watson

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Criminology WDW205H1 FOctober 3, 2010 Note Series
Chapter 6 Trait Theories
Trait Theories- this approach looks at the combination of biological or psychological attributes that might
explain criminality. Each offender is considered unique, physically and mentally; consequently, there must
be a unique explanation for each persons behaviour
Biological Trait Theory
Somatype- an idea used in a system developed for categorizing people on the basis of their body build,
associated with the work of William Sheldon
Sociobiology- branch of science that views human behaviour as being motivated by inborn biological urges
and desires. The urge to survive and reproduce motivates human behaviour
Equipotentiality- view that all individuals are equal at birth and are thereafter influenced by their
Instincts- the mechanism by which routine actions and behaviour are known automatically without
Biological Theories of Crime
-major premise is that crime is a function of diet, vitamins, hormonal imbalances or food allergies
-major premise is that delinquents often suffer brain impairment; attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
(ADHD) and minimal brain dysfunction are related to antisocial behaviour
-major premise is that criminal traits and predispositions are inherited; the criminality of parents can
predict the delinquency of children
-major premise is that as the human race evolved, traits become ingrained; some of these traits make
people aggressive and predisposed to commit crime
Biochemical Conditions and Crime
Hypoglycemia- a biochemical condition, in this case a deficiency of sugar, influences antisocial behaviour
and criminality
Androgens- male sex hormones, linked to criminality
Testosterone- an androgen, or male hormone, which controls secondary sex characteristics and can alter
Premenstrual Syndrome PMS- the biogenetic theory that several days prior to and during menstruation
females are beset by irrationability and poor judgement as a result of hormonal changes, and that this
puts them at a greater risk for criminality
Neurophysiology- the study of brain activity that looks at neurological and physical abnormalities
acquired during the fetal or perinatal stage thought to control behaviour
Electroencephalograph EEG- a device that can record the electronic impulses given off by the brain,
commonly called brain waves
Minimal Brain Dysfunction MBD- an abnormality in cerebral structure causes maladaptive behaviour;
linked to serious antisocial acts, an imbalance in the urge-control mechanisms of the brain, and chemical
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder ADHD- a condition in which a child shows a developmentally
inappropriate lack of attention, impulsivity and hyperactivity
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