Biological Theories of Crime

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Biological Theories of Crime

  1. 1. Advanced Higher Modern Studies
  2. 2. <ul><li>Evaluate key studies which attempt to link biology and genetics to criminal behaviour </li></ul><ul><li>Analyse the value of such studies and their contribution to the field of criminology </li></ul>
  3. 3. <ul><li>Although flawed, as in Lombruso’s (1876) attempt to classify criminal atavistic types biological theories have generally captured a great deal of attention. </li></ul><ul><li>Many of the studies have lead to further, more detailed work which is of value, such as the examination of psychological factors and mental illness in criminals. </li></ul>
  4. 4. <ul><li>All studies have simply tried to link a single biological feature to criminal behaviour e.g. facial appearance. </li></ul><ul><li>It is now widely accepted that a range of factors contribute to a person’s likelihood to commit a crime. </li></ul><ul><li>However, it is important to understand the studies and their place in explaining why some people commit crime. </li></ul><ul><li>Lombroso’s ideas were mirrored in later studies, so in that sense they are significant. </li></ul>
  5. 5. <ul><li>Sheldon suggested that humans could be grouped into three body types. </li></ul><ul><li>Ectomorphs </li></ul><ul><li>Endomorphs </li></ul><ul><li>Mesomorphs </li></ul>
  6. 7. <ul><li>He concluded that delinquents tended to mesomorphy. </li></ul>
  7. 8. <ul><li>“ The mesomorph seeks and needs vigorous physical activity, enjoys risk taking and is adventurous.” </li></ul><ul><li>Sheldon argued that the mesomorph is likely to have a high pain threshold, will be aggressive and callous and may be ruthless. </li></ul>
  8. 9. <ul><li>Sheldon pictured (naked) ‘delinquents’ and compared their body shapes with ‘normal’ students at Yale. </li></ul>
  9. 10. <ul><li>Followed Sheldon’s research in “Unravelling Juvenille Delinquency” </li></ul><ul><li>Concluded that the majority (60%) of delinquents were mesomorphs </li></ul><ul><li>However, other research that they themselves completed indicated that the family and early childhood experiences were factors in criminality. </li></ul>
  10. 11. <ul><li>Confirmation of prejudices </li></ul><ul><li>Evidence of a criminal class </li></ul><ul><li>Psychologically comforting </li></ul><ul><li>Scientific approach </li></ul>
  11. 12. <ul><li>Studies have shown that people widely believe there is a criminal ‘type’ </li></ul><ul><li>This stereotype can influence perception of innocence or guilt </li></ul>
  12. 14. <ul><li>Evidence of enthusiasm for biological theories of crime ( even if flawed) </li></ul><ul><li>Empirical data followed scientific principles </li></ul><ul><li>Weaknesses in research led to academic study in significant directs. </li></ul><ul><li>Evidence of social identity theory. </li></ul>

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