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Individual Theories

by: Alyssa Zirkman

Individual Theories SOC 371

Marketplace > University of Miami > Sociology > SOC 371 > Individual Theories
Alyssa Zirkman
GPA 3.8
Intro to Criminology
Olena Antonaccio

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Class notes on Individual Theories- Biological and Psychological
Intro to Criminology
Olena Antonaccio
Class Notes
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This 3 page Class Notes was uploaded by Alyssa Zirkman on Monday October 19, 2015. The Class Notes belongs to SOC 371 at University of Miami taught by Olena Antonaccio in Fall 2015. Since its upload, it has received 24 views. For similar materials see Intro to Criminology in Sociology at University of Miami.


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Date Created: 10/19/15
Individualistic Theories of Crime Traits of individuals lead to crime A 1 Early Biological Positivism 18501930 Cesare Lombroso Father of criminologyquot a Lombroso was the first to scientifically study causes of crime looking at pictures of criminals b Criminals as atavistic throwbacksquot i Theory of atavists some people are born drew on Darwin and then just stop in their development so they have throwbacks parts that are not developed ie excessive hair on the body is like a caveman c Identified through presence of stigmata atavistic anomalies i Peaked notes as bird of prey ii Sloped forehead large jaw iii Strong canine teeth as with carnivores iv General hairiness of the body 2 The Demise of early biological positivism a Poor theory i Single biological trait as direct cause of crime 1 Some thought the shape of the skull alone would leald to crime b Poor biased research i Research based on prisoners or crime families 1 Lombroso didn t compare criminal pictures to general population c Dangerous policy implications i Eugenics movement 1 These traits were used as justification for terrible movements like eugenics sterilization etc d It was largely discredited by 1950 3 Sociobiology 1970 s to now a Biochemical and Neurophysiological Factors biological aspects that could lead to criminal behavior combination of biology and sociological conditions may lead to changes in cognitive functioning and then crime researchers looking at this now i Chemical and mineral deficiencies ii Diets sugar and carbohydrates linked to violence and aggression iii XYY chromosome and hormonal differences iv Environment contaminants lead copper etc v Abnormal electroencephalograph EEG readings vi Brain dysfunction vii ADHD b Results and Conclusions i Inconsistent evidence modest or no effects hard to link one trait with change in behavior ii Types of crime iii Interactions with social factors 4 Is Criminality Inherited a Key separating nature and nurture b Genetic factors in crime controversy over genetic predisposition to crime i Parental Deviance parents crime and deviance is a robust predictor of the child s delinquency but is it due to genetics or other factors ii Twin studies small samples and possibility that identical twins more likely to share same environment than fraternal twins 1 Give you possibility to control the environment without random assignment you can control for social factors and study differences in behavior those differences could be due to differences in genes except with identical twins iii Adoption studies small samples not strong correlations and different interpretations eg interactions of social and genetic factors 1 We can see if the behavior is due to genetics or environment due to the difference only some support was found for this weak correlations c We have more sophisticated studies now 13 5 Psychological Theories of Crime a Individuals commit crime due to psychological personality problems maladjustment or mental deficiency i General psychological ii IQ and crime b Psychological explanations have not been very popular because they do not explain the crime you cannot measure the cause of crime independent of mental illness i HARE PCL list of traits one might see in a person with psychopathic character and only a few things on that list are actually associated with crime juvenile delinquencyquot and criminal versatilityquot 6 General Psychological Theories a Forms of psychopathology and mental illness eg personality disorder psychosis schizophrenia i Mental illness especially personality disorders can obviously cause crime b Instruments Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory DSMV i Necessary to measure and prove mental illness c Some criticisms tautology causal priority i Tautology circular reasoning crime causes crime ie HARE characteristics ii These theories don t tell us where the crime comes from iii Cant use a prior crime to show mental illness to explain the crime iv PD gt crime gt PD 7 IQ and Crime a More on nature vs nurture i Low IQ as a risk factor for criminal behavior 1 YES Herrnstein and Murray 1994 book Bell Curvequot interviews people already in prison empirical support on correlations with different measures of crime SES is not the 3rd variable indirect relations etc 2 NO criticism biased towards the white middle class tests exaggerated effects of IQ other factors ignored children might not be getting enough support at home or school types of crimes white collar and corporate crimes require high IQ a Correlation is pretty weak ii Criminologists see IQ as a personality trait not a mental condition not biological


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