Chapter 6 Trait Theory Criminology 8 th edition Larry J. Siegel
Do you think that people who commit crime are physically or mentally abnormal?
Trait theories are made up of biosocial and psychological theories.
The primary focus of trait theories is human behavior and the link to anti-social behavior, i.e., aggression, violence, and criminality.
Biological and Psychological Traits
Both biological and psychological traits have been linked to criminal behavior, but not as causal linkages.
It is the “ multiple factor ” approach or the interaction of mental and physical traits with environmental and social factors that either suppress or trigger criminal behavior.
The focus is generally on persistent or chronic offenders.
Foundations of Biological Trait Theory
Biological explanation of criminal behavior first became popular during the middle part of the 19th Century with the introduction of positivism .
What is positivism?
Positivism rejects the concept of free will .
Crime can only be understood if it is studied by the scientific method .
Human behavior is a function of internal and external forces , i.e., social, biological, psychological, or economic forces.
Early positivists included:
Lombroso (belief that certain physical characteristics indicate a criminal nature).
Garofalo (certain physical characteristics and psychological characteristics indicate criminal nature).
Ferri (belief in biological, social and organic factors as a cause of crime and delinquency).
Sheldon (belief in body types which were susceptible to certain types of delinquent behavior).
Problems With Early Positivist Theories The research of the earliest positivists (who were biologists) was plagued by poor: Methodology Testing Logic
Biosocial Trait Theories
Biochemical Conditions and Crime
Neurophysiological Conditions and Crime
Genetics and Crime
Evolutionary Views and Crime
Principles of Biosocial Trait Theories
Genetic makeup contributes significantly to human behavior.
Not all humans are born with equal potential to learn and achieve.
This combination produces individual human behavior patterns.
How does a biosocial theorists
explain learning ?
Biosocial Theory: Biochemical Perspective Crime, especially violence, is a function of diet, vitamin intake, hormonal imbalance, or food allergies. CAUSE Explains irrational violence. Shows how the environment interacts with personal traits to influence behavior. STRENGTHS
Is there a link between sugar and antisocial behavior? Is there a link between hormones and antisocial behavior?
Aggression and criminal behavior have been linked to diet. Some believe sugar intake is one culprit. If this is true, to what extent is behavior voluntarily induced by these foods?
Biosocial Theory: Neurological Perspective Criminals and delinquents often suffer brain impairment, as measured by the EEG. Attention deficit disorder and minimum brain dysfunction are related to antisocial behavior. CAUSE Explains irrational violence. Shows how the environment interacts with personal traits to influence behavior. STRENGTHS
If the medical community tells us that neurological impairment was related to violent crime can the offender be held accountable?
If research in the community finds similar impairments in non-offenders, does this change the issue of culpability among offenders who have the impairment?
Biosocial Theory: Genetic Perspective Criminal traits and predispositions are inherited. The criminality of parents can predict the delinquency of children. CAUSE Explains why only a small percentage of youth in a high-crime area become chronic offenders . STRENGTHS
Biosocial Theory: Evolutionary Perspective As the human race evolved, traits and characteristics have become ingrained. Some of these make people aggressive and predisposed to commit crime. CAUSE Explains high violence rates and aggregate gender differences in the crime rate. STRENGTHS
It there is a biological basis to violence and aggression – then how would a biosocial theorist explain white collar crime?
Evaluation of Biosocial Trait Theory
If there are biological explanations for street crimes then by implication biological theory says that member of groups are biologically different, flawed or inferior
Rather than suggest that there are born criminals and non-criminals, proponents maintain that some people carry the potential to be violent or antisocial and that environmental conditions can sometimes trigger antisocial responses
PSYCHOLOGICAL TRAIT THEORIES
Mental Illness and crime
Personality and Crime
Intelligence and Crime
Psychological Theory: Psychodynamic Perspective Major Premise….. The development of the unconscious personality early in childhood influence behavior for the rest of a person’s life. Criminals have weak egos and damaged personalities i.e., anger, sexuality, tendencies. Created by Sigmund Freud. Strengths…. Explains the onset of crime and why crime and drug abuse cut across class lines.
Psychological Theory: Behavioral Perspective Major Premise….. People commit crime when they model their behavior after others they see being rewarded for the same acts. Behavior is reinforced by rewards and extinguished by punishment, i.e., learning processes. Strengths…. Explains the role of significant others in the crime process. Shows how family life and media can influence crime and violence.
Social Learning Theory (Life Experiences) Factors that help produce violence and aggression . Behavior and values become consistent Expected outcomes - rewards Learned aggressive skills An event that heightens arousal
Psychological Theory: Cognitive Theory Major Premise….. Individual reasoning processes influence behavior. Reasoning is influenced by the way people perceive their environment and by their moral and intellectual development, i.e., thinking, memory, ethical values. Strengths…. Shows why criminal behavior patterns change over time as people mature and develop their moral reasoning. May explain aging-out process.
Crime and Mental Illness A great deal of early research efforts found that many offenders who engage in serious, violent crimes suffer from some sort of mental disturbance. However, empirical evidence has contradicted this. Research shows that upon release, prisoners who had prior histories of hospitalization for mental disorders were less likely to be rearrested than those who had never been hospitalized . Mentally disordered inmates who do recidivate upon release appear to do so for the same reasons as the mentally sound.
Personality and Crime - Trait Personality can be defined as the reasonably stable patterns of behavior, including thoughts and emotions that distinguish one person from another. Personality reflects a characteristic way of adapting to life’s demands and problems. Psychopaths Sociopaths Anti-Social Personalities I Abnormal Affect
Intelligence and Crime
What is the difference between nature theory and nurture theory?
Do you think IQ and crime are linked?
If so, why are there more male than female criminals? Or, Why does “aging out” occur?