Chapter 6 Notes

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University of Toronto St. George
Woodsworth College Courses
Jim Davies

Criminology in Canada: Chapter 6: Trait Theories - Trait theories: these approaches look at the combination of biological or psychological attributes that might explain criminality. Each offender is considered unique, physically and mentally; consequently, each person’s behavior must have a unique explanation o Known chronic recidivism and the development of criminal careers - Though some criminals “choose crime”, some repeat offenders that make that choice could be linked to their physical and mental makeups Biological Trait Theory Development of Biological Theories - Cesare Lombroso’s “born criminals” and identification of primitive atavistic anomalies was based on what he believed to be sound empirical research using established scientific methods - “A lower degree of sensibility to physical pain seems to be demonstrated by the readiness with which prisoners submit to the operation of tattooing” – Raffaele Garofalo o Believed that certain physical characteristics indicate a criminal nature - Enrico Ferri, believed that biological and organic factors cause delinquency and crime o Criminals should not be held responsible for their actions because social forces outside their control cause criminality - Inheritance school traced the activities of several generations o Prostitution, criminal member activities - Somatype: an idea used in a system developed for categorizing people on the basis of their body build, associated with the works of William Sheldon o Mesomorphs: well developed muscles and are active, aggressive, most likely to become criminals o Endomorphs: heavy build, known for lethargic behavior o Ectomorphs: tall, thin, less social, more intellectual than other types Sociobiology - Sociobiology: the branch of science that views human behavior as being motivated by inborn biological urges and desires. The urge to survive and reproduce motivates human behavior o View genes as the ultimate unit of life that controls all human destiny, environment and experience are viewed as having an impact of the behavior o People are controlled by the innate need to have their genes survived o Motivated by the belief that their actions will be reciprocated o Biology, environment and learning as mutually interdependent factors Modern Biological Theories - Modern biological trait theories believe that physical, environmental, and social conditions work together to produce human behavior - Depending on the environmental forces, it may or may not trigger ones deviant behavior - Equipotentiality: the concept that individuals are equal at birth therefore are influenced by their environments - Sociological criminologists say that everyone is born equal and our behavior is controlled by social forces - Biosocial theorist, no two people are alike and that the combination of human genetic traits and the environment produces individual behavior patterns - Instincts: the mechanism by which routine actions and behavior are known automatically without being learned Biochemical Conditions and Crime - Biochemical conditions: genetically predetermined and those acquired through diet and environment Nutritional Deficiencies - Maintaining minimum levels of vitamins and minerals are needed for normal brain functioning o Lack of this may result in physical, mental and behavioral problems o Alcoholics suffer from thiamine deficiency due to their poor diets and consequently susceptible to Korsaokoff’s syndrome Sugar and Crime - High sugar intake levels have been associated with attention-span deficiencies o High sugar and carb diets are linked to violence and aggression o Sugar intake linked to emotional cognitive and behavior performance Hypoglycemia - Hypoglycemia: a biochemical condition, in this case a deficiency of sugar, which influences antisocial behavior and criminality o Irritability, anxiety, depression, crying spells, fatigue, insomnia, nervousness, mood swings, phobias, temper outbursts, headaches, and confusion - Higher than normal prevalence of hypoglycemia has been found in studies of jail and prison inmate population and in groups of habitually violent and impulsive offenders Hormone Influences - Males are biologically and naturally more aggressive than females o Women are more nurturing of the young and more important for survival of the species - Hormone levels also explain the aging-out process o Male hormones decline during the life cycle, violence decreases - Androgens: male sex hormones, which have been linked to criminality o In fact do produce aggressive behaviors - Prepubertal development is a significant factor in peer-to-peer sexual harassment - Testosterone: an androgen, which controls secondary sex characteristics and can alter behavior o The higher the androgen level, the more aggressive one is more likely to become - Male sex offenders are sometimes treated with drugs that decrease testosterone o Problem with sex offenders is that most will have substance abuse disorders, antisocial personality disorders, mood disorders, or psychological problems Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) - Premenstrual syndrome: the biogenetic theory that several days prior to and during menstruation females are beset by irritability and poor judgment as a result of hormonal changes, which places them at a greater risk for criminality o Majority of females who suffer anxiety and hostility before and during menstruation do not actually engage in violent criminal behaviors Allergies - Excessive reactions of the body to foreign substances - Cerebral allergies, reaction to the brain - Neuroallergies affect the nervous system, linked to mental, emotional and behavioral problems o A connection between these allergies and hyper emotionality, depression, aggressiveness and violent behavior Environmental Contaminants - Dangerous quantities of copper, cadmium, mercury, and inorganic gases in the ecosystem influence behavior and are linked to emotional and behavior disorders, illness, or death - Ingestion of food dyes and artificial colors and flavors have been linked to hostile, impulsive and antisocial behavior - High lead ingestions are linked to lower IQ scores, aggressive behavior, attention deficit disorder, antisocial activities Neurophysiological Conditions and Crime - Neurophysiology: the study of brain activity that looks at neurological and physical abnormalities acquired during the fetal or perinatal stage, which are thought to control behavior o Association between impairment in brain functions; abstract reasoning, problem solving skills and aggressive behavior Neurological Impairment and Crime - Neurological functioning is measured in numerous ways, visual awareness tests, short-term auditory memory tests, and verbal IQ tests - Electroencephalograph (EEG): a device that can record the electronic impulses given off by the brain, commonly called brain ways Fetal Alcohol Syndrome - Occurs when children are exposed to alcohol which in the womb and later experience developmental delays and with crime-related behavior o 50% of those with FAFD are diagnosed with ADHD o Learning difficulties, poor impulse control, speech problems, inability to foresee consequences Minimal Brain Dysfunction - minimal brain dysfunction: an abnormality in cerebral structure that causes maladaptive behavior and is linked to antisocial acts and imbalance in urge-control - Abnormality in cerebral structure o Serious antisocial acts, an imbalance n the urge control mechanism of the brain, and chemical abnormality o Minimal brain dysfunction is manifested through episodic periods of explosive rage and is considered an important cause of such behavior as spouse beating, child abuse, suicide, aggressiveness, and motiveless homicide Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder - Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): a condition in which a child shows developmentally inappropriate lack of attention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity o 3-5% of children, most often boys have ADHD o Poor school performance, grade retention, placement in special needs classes, bullying, stubbornness, lack of response to discipline o Causes include neurological damage, prenatal stress, food additive and chemical allergies, maybe genetic link o Grow up in a dysfunctional family are most vulnerable to chronic and persistent delinquency o High likelihood of inheritance and associated with substance abuse Other Brain Dysfunctions - Persistent criminality has been linked to dysfunction in the frontal and temporal regions of the brain, regulate and inhibit human behavior Tumors, Injury and Disease - Presence of brain tumors has been linked to psychological problems; personality changes, hallucinations and psychotic episodes o More prone to depression, irritability, temper outbursts, homicidal attacks
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