The following assignment focuses upon the biological approach to criminal behaviour and sough to explain the notion of environmental and social influence on offenders. It is, however essential to investigate the theory of how biological analysis is effective in criminality. Also the impact on society and the minds of the offenders is worth examining. This essay will also include the development of biological theories that have been used for centuries as well as the criticisms of those theories. The debate of biological theories and its influence on criminal behaviour is an endless matter.
Crime was permanently problem for society and individual’s propensity to easily get influence by their surrounding. Biologists strive to discover elements within individuals that would make the predisposed towards such criminal behaviour. Social scientists established this theory in the late 19th century, as this was the era of interest and development in the study of scientific biological factors of crime. Science expanded in to different sectors such as psychology sociology and criminology. Franz Joseph Gall was a physiologist and pioneer in mental functions in the brain and skulls.
To some extent his theory supports Lombroso’s work. Lombroso is well known for his famous work on physical characteristics rather than social conditions (Newburn, 2012). He was against the idea that crime was a characteristic of human nature, but believed that crime was inherited. He is famous for the founding of the criminal anthropology in which he examined the mind, body and lifestyles of the “born” criminals. He believe that his theory is originated from human evolution and “born criminals” have certain physical makeup metal capabilities and instinctive of primitive man.
Lombroso commenced his work during the time he was serving in the army. In the army he studied the psychical difference among the soldiers, including soldiers who were highly disciplined and those who display aggressive or criminal behaviour. His early work sustained the relationship between physical malformation and features of an individual against his tendency to commit crime. Lombroso theories support to identify the criminals by the types of facial features they have.
Sheldon was another famous scientist who looked ‘body types’ and distinguished how each body type corresponds with different personality. These include the ectomorph is described as thin and fragile, they could come across as shy with poor social skills. Whereas endomorph soft, round with velvety skin and they are described to be fun and outgoing personalities. Lastly, the mesomorphs are identified as muscular, hourglass shape and heavy chest with thick skin. Shelton pointed out that the mesomorphs are more likely to commit crime as they seek and need vigorous physical activity.
He also argued that 60% of delinquencies were Mesomorphs. Biological theory is sought to explain why some people are more prone to commit crime. However, Lombroso’s work is not adequate and the method he used was not representative. On the other hand, Goring examined 3,000 English convicts and 3,000 non-convicts, applying Lombroso’s work into practice, however, the only distinctive peculiarities Lombroso identified could not be find although, Goring did discover a common factor of low intelligent among the offenders.
Jacoby interestingly pointed out that “out of 100 individuals, only 1 was creative or inventive and the remainder were prone to imitation”. Early biologist used physical characteristics and genetic difference to distinguish the criminal from non-criminals. But as the world develops, biologist starts using psychological and social factors to explain to identifying potential delinquency behaviours of criminals. Although Lombroso’s theory was largely discredited, it has influenced criminologist work and therefore, the interactions of social dynamics continue to explore (Newburn 2012).
Conventional biologist indicated that criminal behaviour is a result if a defect within the individual, and this fault can be either biological or genetic which can also be used to distinguish between a criminal and non-criminal. However, modern biological have a more understanding on the superior impact on the individual’s choices to commit crime. The debate of whether the foundation of crime is rooted from environment or heritage is constant to a point. Criminologists have constructed four types of research; family, twin and adoption studies.
However, some argued that these research do not support the notion of twin, adoption, and family studies as there is not enough evidence to profess that genetics take part in an individual’s antisocial or criminal behaviour (Lowenstein, 2003) while other believe these theories do support the idea of family, twin and adoption studies (Tehrani and Mednick,). There are also dramatic advance researches in the area of twins and adoption family studies, which demonstrates that genetic process accounts for 50% of antisocial and criminal behaviour.
Although there is a conflict of interests in the areas of genetics and social influences to which criminologist differ to come a conclusion. The studies of twins are conducted on the basis of comparing identical twins criminal behaviour and fraternal twins criminal behaviour. Researchers interest including in the fining of traits such intellectual defects or aggression as biological assume this is genetically given to an individual and this type of behaviour is closely associated with criminal behaviour (Rob Whit & Fiona Haines).
Sir Francis Galton stated that “Twins have a special claim upon our attention; it is, that their history affords means of distinguishing between the effects of tendencies received at birth, and those that were imposed by the special circumstances of their after lives. ” This theory is particularly important when trying to disentangle the environmental and genetic influences on a person’s behaviour as twins share all their genes.
There are types of twins: Monozygotic (identical) twins share all genetic material, while dizygotic (fraternal) also recognised non-identical twin and they come from two separate eggs and therefore, only share 50 per cent of genes. This is the same amount that any siblings from the same parents share. Researchers suggested that if results of twin studies illustrate higher concordance rates for MZ twins than DZ twins this would show that alternatively, twins demonstrate greater similarity in their behaviour than non-twin sibling, then it can be assumed that there is a genetic influence (Newburn, 134, 2007).
However, a study conducted examined 32 MZ twins, who were adopted short time after birth. The results showed antisocial behaviour for both adult and childhood antisocial behaviour and there was a high degree of heritability involved (Joseph, 2001). Therefore, there is likelihood for MZ twins to have analogous criminal behaviour due to their genetic appearance. For MZ twins, if one twin was an offender there is a higher chance that the other could have the same delinquent behaviour.
Researches have found evidences to that the hypothesis is valid, however other remain sceptical criminality and genetics may be made through environmental conditions. New researches show that biological factors play larger impact on a criminal characteristic than social factors. Although it can be argued the case of nature vs. nurture has a greater influence affecting an individuals’ life style. Biologist researches illustrates how “murders, psychopaths, and individuals with aggression, antisocial personalities have poorer functioning in prefrontal cortex” as this part of the brain controls and regulates emotions and their behaviours.
Therefore, they are more likely to commit crime and most likely to reoffend. However, psychological positivism goes takes a different direction towards identifying criminal activity. They suggested that “crime was seen as the result of externally caused biological problems (such as war injury) or psychological factors (such as mental illness)” and illustrated this as a treatable problems (Rob White & Fiona Haines, 41, 2008). Therefore, they have the ideology that criminal are made contrasting Lombroso’s theory of how criminals are born.
Blackburn discuses in his book of the psychology of criminal conduct how genes have set limitation on an individual’s behaviour, whereas environmental determines development within those limits. Additionally, they also have discovered that the brain of the criminal is physically different from the non-criminals. According to Professor Adrian Raine the brain of the criminals showed 11% reduction in the volume of grey matter (neurons) in the prefrontal cortex.
Meaning that violent offenders do not the metal control over their will power, which leads them to behave aggressively. Modern biologist theory suggested that there are set of chromosomes in the genetic code that triggers criminals to have the propensities to commit crime. The sex of person is frequently determined by one of the pair of chromosomes code. Females are known to have XX and males have XY, however, scientist revealed that there is an extra chromosome, which is suggested that is a sign of extra maleness and will cause greater aggression.
Thus, any individual with XYY is assumed to be more propensities for crime and might be more involved in a criminal behaviour. Furthermore, there was more criticism on structure of chromosome genetic. The theory focused on inmates in metal hospital, so it is cynical as it exposed more on metal illness than criminality. The research is not useful to the extent of predicating criminal behaviour and Burke further argues that there are thousands of normal and harmless individuals who have an extra Y chromosome in the world.
It can be said, in order to justify reason of crime the explanations are not affective to some extent when concerning to biological genes. W. Ray Crozier stated that evidence suggest that low concentrations of 5-HIAA can be associated with impulsive aggression. Additionally relating to this study is the family studies. Studies show that families with criminal genes are most likely to pass those aggressive genes to their children. In these cases is often difficult to differentiate nature from nurture in family environments.
Children frequently go through both experiences such as influents of their parents’ genes and the environment in which they are raised, so it is challenging to classify which factor influenced their behaviour. Adoption studies are also used to search the extent of impact it has on a individual behaviour and whether it does influence by genetic on environmental factors. Genetic behaviour also takes part in shaping aggressive behaviour in children at early stage. Some could argue that this method would be seen better use than twin studies to establish the environmental influence.
For example to prove a valid argument for genetic inheritance a child that is adopted straight after birth shows signs of their biological parent rather than their adoptive ones, this clearly shows its genetics. Nevertheless, this theory of Sheldon and Lombroso’s does consist enough of evidence to why individuals commit crime. There is difficulty of separating biologics/genetics to environmental when examining the influence of criminality. Lombroso believes that people that have tattoos can be associated in engaging with criminal behaviour because they are immune to pain.