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Week 3 notes crim. theory

by: Janaki Padmakumar

Week 3 notes crim. theory CCJ4014

Marketplace > University of Florida > CRIMINOLOGY > CCJ4014 > Week 3 notes crim theory
Janaki Padmakumar

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About this Document

These notes cover rational choice, biological and bio social theories in detail (includes reading of Caspi et al study)
Criminological theory
Abby Fagan
Class Notes
criminology, Biosocial criminology
25 ?




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This 6 page Class Notes was uploaded by Janaki Padmakumar on Saturday September 10, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to CCJ4014 at University of Florida taught by Abby Fagan in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 7 views. For similar materials see Criminological theory in CRIMINOLOGY at University of Florida.


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Date Created: 09/10/16
Week 2 Notes Criminological theory Lecture 3- Rational choice, biological and biosocial theories Second assignment due Thursday Summary: crime occurs after one weighs the costs and benefits of crime  Based on the expected utility principle of economics  People act to maximize profit and minimize costs/losses  Overlaps with deterrence theory- act with regard to profit **Crime is a CHOICE made by the offender- not something you were forced into or biologically driven to do  Choice made by calculating cost v benefits Rational choice theory: how it works  You have opportunity to commit crime  Consider pros and cons  Make decision allowing most benefits and fewest costs o Applications: o Underage drinking? Benefits: stress relief, socially accepted. Costs: hangovers, get in trouble with law o Assaulting someone who attacked a friend? Similarity to deterrence theory:  Both consider people as rational thinkers  Punishment considered an important "cost" of crime Difference between deterrence and rational choice:  Rational choice is a "micro" theory- it focuses on an individual's decision making process  Deterrence (general deterrence) is a "macro" theory- focuses on requiring laws, and enforcing them Critique- criminals are not always rational Responses:  Offenders usually weigh pros and cons of their actions, even if its only a quick assessment o E.g. will I be able to win this fight? o Someone is watching, I'll do this later.  Criminals don’t always make good choices  Even "irrational" crimes have benefits for the offender Overall summary Logical- 8 Broad scope-10 designed to evaluate every type of crime Parsimonious- yes Empirical support Practical (suggests Rational choice recommendation for crime reduction: similar to deterrence model- increase the costs associated with crime Biological and Biosocial theories of crime Biological theories- crime is caused by anatomical, physiological or genetic anomalies or abnormalities Anatomy- having to do with your physical body Physiology- how your body interacts on a organ system/cellular level Genetics- genes  Micro theory- examines individual predictors of crime  Can explain individual differences in criminal tendencies o Why doe some kids from bad neighborhoods/families refrain from crime? o Why do some children from good neighborhoods and educated backgrounds become criminal? Positive school of criminology  Rejects notion of complete free will and rational choice o Causes of crime are outside individual control o Swift, certain and severe punishments will not be effective Quiz  Lombroso thought criminals could be identified by their: Physical appearance  Biosocial theories stress that crime is influenced by biological factors and: environmental conditions  There is strong evidence that higher levels of testosterone are related to increased violence and aggression: false Cesare Lombroso  The Criminal man 1876  Measured physical characteristics of dead male criminals  Introduction to scientific method and the positivist school of thinking  Compared physical and psychological traits of Italian prisoners and noncriminal Italian soldiers o Found substantial differences between criminals and non criminals o Based on measurement, criminals are physically different- long arms, large jaw, big lips, twisted nose, large eyes, low foreheads, etc  Criminals are born a certain way; not produced by social factors  They are "atavistic"  Less evolved, biologically inferior, and defective William Sheldon 1949  Crime is related to differences in body type and corresponding personality  Three body type groups o Endomorphs o Mesomorphs- associated with criminal behavior; had physical capability to commit crime more easily bc in shape and fit- tendency to have aggressive personalities as well o Ectomorph IQ and Crime  Offenders have lower IQ and less verbal intelligence than non criminals on average  Why does it affect criminal involvement o More likely to get caught o Less likely to consider consequences of actions o IQ related to moral reasoning Brain development and crime  Brain maturation not complete until about age 25  The prefrontal lobe takes the longest time to develop o Ability to make good decisions is affected; enables people to make rational choices  Teens are not adequately prepared to react to their environment  Teens can't adequately evaluate the consequences of their actions  Supreme court ruled that "children are different" and outlawed for juveniles: o The death penalty 2005 o Science shows youth have a "lack of maturity and underdeveloped sense of responsibility" o Life in prison without parole 2012 Testosterone and crime  Are biological or physiological differences between males and females responsible fro sex differences in offending? o Testosterone studies o Extra "Y" chromosome  On average, those with higher testosterone are slightly more likely to partake in criminal behavior- relationship does exist Other physiological differences  Lower heart rate o 2105 study of 710K Swedish men with heart rates less than 6bpm compared to those with more than 83 bpm found: o 49% more likely to be convicted of violent crimes o 25% more likely to be convicted of non violent crime  Why? o Individuals need to engage in riskier/more dangerous activities to feel excitement; i.e. require more stimulation Personality and crime  Criminals tend to have: o Low levels of self constraint (high impulsivity) o A lack of empathy o Negative emotionality  Break down under stress, are aggressive, and are more likely to perceive their environment as harmful/threatening o Less "resiliency" i.e. do not handle adverse situations well  Psychopathy? o Hare: 20% of all inmates are psychopaths o Traits: self-centered, lack of remorse, lack of empathy, manipulative, etc Lecture 4- Biological and biosocial theories cont.d Summary of biological theories:  Which biological characteristics have the strongest evidence of affecting crime? o Personality traits o Brain development o Some genetic influences o Heart rate o Testosterone  No evidence? o Physical characteristics Biosocial theories- crime caused by interaction between biological characteristics and the environment NOT nature vs. nurture, but rather nature via nurture Nature and nurture are equally important; biological characteristics determine experience in social environment Genetic research  Is there a genetic basis for crime, i.e. do genes "cause" offending?  How do you study the relationship between genes and crime?  Twin studies: o Genetic makeup of identical twins is the same because they are the product of the same egg o Fraternal twins and regular siblings have 50% genetic similarity; identical twins are 100% similar  If genes were full link to criminal behavior, identical twins have 100% chance of both committing crime o Studies on twins show that monozygotic twins (identical) are more similar in their criminal behavior than dizygotic (fraternal twins) o This evidence supports a genetic or hereditary link? No- we would need to compare twins raised apart to exclude social factors contributing to crime  Adoption studies: o Criminal records of adopted children are compared with records of biological and adoptive parents o If crime related to genetics, kids should resemble their biological parents o Results?  Children are more likely to be offender when their biological parent is, compared to their adoptive parent  Stronger link between biological parents and kids than adoptive parents for criminal behavior o Offending link isn't as strong for monozygotic twins raised apart than those raised in the same household o Cannot pinpoint one or any combination of genes as something that causes crime  No genetic link that can fully explain offending o But for some, genes have been found to make offending more likely under certain circumstances Biosocial interactions Individual genetic makeup and environmental (social) factors interact together to affect crime  Crime is dependent on nature and nurture Individuals with certain genetic profiles (MAOA) are more likely to be negatively affected by adverse environment (child abuse and neglect)  Environment acted as a "switch" to turn on the gene AND individuals with certain genetic profiles are more likely to be positively affected by positive environments Caspi et al 2002  one of the first studies to show a biosocial relationship  Even though maltreatment increased crime, not all kids who were maltreated became criminal or environment  They tested whether or not this relationship was dependent on the individual's genetic makeup  Studied 500 men; gathered info from parents and social workers about if kids had experienced abuse or neglect from ages 5-11; longitudinal study up to age 26  Specifically looked to see if they had MAOA "warrior" gene which has been linked (weakly) to violence  Some with gene are violent, some are not; some environmental trigger produced different effect  Compared low MAOA genetic risk factor and high MAOA risk factors to level of abuse (one, probable or serious) o Results showed based on maltreatment and genetics, those with low MAOA (highest risk) and probable-serious abuse most likely to commit violent offenses (y-axis asked if arrested for violent offense) o However this group comprised only around 30% total sample o Least likely group is low genetic risk and no abuse Evaluating biological/biosocial theory  Biological theories are making a comeback  We now have better technology to study biological traits  Strengths of the theory: o Helps us understand why some individuals commit crime and others don't o Recognizes that both individual and social characteristics affect crime  "double whammy" effects; the more risk factors you experience in life, the more likely you are to become criminal  Weaknesses: o Lack of empirical evidence- not all individuals with these traits become criminal o How do we prevent crime?  Policy implications are unclear, difficult to enact, or are morally problematic Crime prevention What do biological and biosocial theories suggest to reduce crime  Start early  Use screening to ID deficits o Provide treatment or counseling to address issue  But is it correct to label people as potential criminals?


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