Presentation is loading. Please wait.

Presentation is loading. Please wait.

Biological Theories of Crime

Similar presentations

Presentation on theme: "Biological Theories of Crime"— Presentation transcript:

1 Biological Theories of Crime
Main assumptions Lombroso Sheldon XYY Male

2 Introduction We often judge others by how they look even though we know that “appearances are deceiving” Research on impact of “physical appearance”

3 Criminal “Type” Most defense attorneys coach their clients on how they should dress and groom themselves for court so jurors will get the impression they are not the “type” of person who would commit a crime

4 Character and physical appearance
We frequently make inferences about another person’s character based on his/her appearance Ancient Greeks and Romans believed in “physiognomy” (physical features can reveal a person’s natural disposition) “Do not trust beardless men and bearded women”

5 Physiognomy as Practiced in Europe
A choleric person has a "hot" temperament, is irritable and easily roused to anger A melancolic person is pensive and tends to feel sad A phlegmatic person is not easily aroused to excitement and lacks emotion expression A sanguine person is confident and optimistic

6 Biological Theories Biological theories tended towards seeing crime as a form of illness, caused by pathological factors specific to certain classes of individuals “bad” behaviour vs “sick” behaviour How can we blame someone for being sick?

7 Leprosy Has left behind a terrifying image in history and human memory - mutilation, rejection and exclusion from society The idea that ugly is evil

8 Leprosy Leprosy is not highly infectious
It is transmitted via droplets, from the nose and mouth, during close and frequent contacts with untreated cases In 9 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America leprosy is still considered a public health problem These countries account for about 75% of the global disease burden

9 Criminal behavior and pathology
Pathology, in this respect, relates to the idea that the criminal cannot help but commit crime In this respect, the cause of law-breaking might, for example, be found in a chemical imbalance in the brain

10 Biological Theory The individual is not responsible for his/her actions Cognitive Ability and Biology

11 Biological Theories The criminal is radically different from the non-criminal We can assume that some people are "born criminals“ Punishment is inapplicable

12 Biological theories Crime has been redefined as “sick” rather than “bad” behavior “Medicalization” of behavior (hyperactive children are given medicine) Search for individuals traits rather than social factors

13 The Underlying Logic Atavism Inability to Mental and Learn and
Follow legal rules Mental and Physical Inferiority Criminal Behavior Defective genes

14 Lombroso’s Theory Bodily constitution causes “born criminal” to violate the laws “born criminal” is an “atavism” (throwback to an earlier stage of human evolution) Physical makeup, mental capabilities, and instincts of primitive man

15 Lombroso’s Theory Observed the physical characteristics of Italian prisoners and compared them to Italian soldiers Concluded that criminals were physically different Lombroso presented a long list of physical characteristics used to identify criminals


17 Cesare Lombroso ( ) Asymmetry of the face or head, large monkey-like ears, large lips, twisted nose, excessive cheek bones, long arms, excessive skin wrinkles The male with five or more of these physical anomalies is marked as a born criminal Female criminals are also born criminals, but they may be identified with as few as three anomalies

18 Tattoos Were significant to Lombroso Most of the “born criminals”
had them Obscene nature of their depictions and messages Tattoos stood as evidence of both insensitive to physical pain and immorality

19 Criminal Women Official records, according to which women had a far lower crime rate than men, is misleading Women are less evolved: naturally vengeful and jealous, their moral sensibilities are deficient, less sensitive to pain than men

20 The Female Offender (1897) Co-authored with William Ferrero
Natural selection is the reason for existence of a greater number of male than female born criminals Men are less likely to breed with physically deformed women

21 The Female Offender (1897) Women have less chances to transmit their genes Degenerative traits in women would be less likely than such traits in men to survive over time

22 Lombroso Born criminal is unsuited for society
Inevitably violate social and legal rules Theories of genetic superiority call for policy in which whole peoples are to be eliminated from the genetic stock of the world in order to prevent crime Theories of individual genetic inferiority call for castration of those said to be habitual criminals in order to prevent their producing more defective children who, presumably will be criminals

23 Frontispiece of Criminal Man
Lombroso claimed that to the trained eye, the eye of the detective, these people would clearly be organized into categories Those in group "A" are all shoplifters, "B" are swindlers, "H" are purse snatchers, "E" are murderers, etc. And supposedly you can see a man's real character at a glance.

24 The New Sciences of Detection
By the 1880s, urban police forces began developing new techniques for keeping track of criminals, especially new techniques of record-keeping Most of these techniques were heavily influenced by criminology

25 Mug Shots The mug shot originated in the 1880s, in studies designed to explore the relationship between appearance and criminal behavior These men are all forgers. The New York Police Department compiled this record in part to see if all forgers looked alike, or all murderers looked alike, or if all burglars had the same facial features

26 Critique of Lombroso Theory overlooks the bright and handsome criminals Theory ignores those who are ugly and live lives of productive and cooperative labor Theory does not look at the variations over time in crime rates. Since genes change very slowly, there should be a steady rate of crime over the centuries. That is not the case. Crime rates vary dramatically.

27 Critique of Lombroso He was studying the very poor - people whose physical development had been affected by poverty, poor nutrition Not everyone who breaks the law ends up in prison This type of theorising neglects the idea that there is a "grey area" of criminality - people who commit crimes but who are not caught and, therefore, not imprisoned.

28 Charles Goring (1913) Junior medical officer in the English prison service Tested the concept of “born criminal” He used statistical analysis to determine the presence of 37 Lombrosian characteristics in the criminal population (2,348 convicts) Compared criminals with “non-criminal public” (undergraduate students, soldiers, inmates of two separate hospitals) Findings: no evidence of a physical type criminal

29 Body Types Criminality is explained by reference to the offenders’ body types Genetics, or external observable physical characteristics

30 W. Sheldon: "Varieties of Delinquent Youth"
Endomorph: Body: fat, round Psych: luxury, sloth, consumption. Ectomorph: Body: frail, skinny, gangly Psych: introverts, cunning, stealth. Mesomorph: Body: large, strong, hard Psych: active, dynamic, assertive, forceful.

31 Endomorph, Mesomorph, Ectomorph

32 Research Study-200 boys, Hayden Goodwill Institute
7-point somotyping scale, 650 psychological attributes Disproportionately mesomorphic--more prone to delinquency. Sheldon and Eleanor Glueck (1950's): 800 delinquents/matched sample of non-delinquents==> delinquents more likely to be mesomorphs.

33 Questions/Problems Maybe need a tough body to gain acceptance/survive on the streets. Body type and social meaning--the boys were already judged to be delinquent.

34 Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (brain dysfunction)
Lack of attention, impulsivity, hyperactivity Blue, green - areas of low metabolism 3% of children (boys) Poor school performance Poor discipline Stimulants like Ritalin Control emotional outburst

35 Symptoms of Attention Deficit
Frequently fails to finish projects Does not seem to pay attention Does not sustain interest in play activities Is easily distracted Frequently acts without thinking Does not want to wait his/her turn in lines or games Shifts from activity to activity Cannot organize tasks or work

36 XYY: The super-male The extra Y chromosome creates a strong compulsion that the XYY carrier is at extreme risk of committing violent crimes The findings of some studies that the proportion of XYY males is prison population (from 1 to 3 %) is higher than in general male population (less than 1%) is accepted as evidence of the theory

37 The XYY “Super-male” Patricia Jacobs (1965) examined 198 Scottish prisoners for chromosomal abnormalities (blood test known “karyotyping”) 12 members of the group displayed XYY (only 3.5% of prison population) 1976 Danish study of 4,000 men found that the incidence of XYY men was less than 1% in the general male population

38 The XYY “Super-male” Crimes for which XYY men were convicted were not violent ones More XY men were convicted for violent offenses

39 200 studies on XYY males Super-males are taller than average male, often standing more than 6’1’’ Suffer from acne or skin disorder Have less than average intelligence Come from families with a lower than average history of crime or mental illness

40 Mental deficiency Next to physical deformity, mental deficiency has been the second most popular explanation of crime "Intelligence" generally consists of different abilities, such as the ability to reason, solve problems, think abstractly, learn and understand new material, adapt to novel situations quickly, grasp complex relationships, and profit from past experience In other words, intelligence is "catching on," "making sense" of things, or "figuring out" what to do. 

41 IQ Most people cluster around the average (IQ 100), with about 3% of Americans regularly scoring above IQ 130 (the threshold for "gifted"), and about 3% regularly scoring below IQ 70 (the threshold for "retarded") People at the lowest two levels, profoundly and severely retarded, have to be institutionalized The moderately or mildly retarded can stay with family or friends, although the amount of care required would be burdensome Slow learners are a large, diverse group. People in the low range (71-80) of this group have been variously called "idiots", "morons", "stooges", or "sixth-graders“ People in the high range (81-90) have usually been called "challenged" or "disabled“

African Americans (as well as some other minority groups), on average, score about 15 points below those of European ancestry on intelligence tests Many studies have consistently found that the average IQ of an African American is 85 while the average IQ of a white American is 100, and that one in five African Americans have an average IQ of 75 (Seligman 1992). Another way that this is often reported is to say that a 17-year old African American performs at the reading, math, and science level of a 13-year old white.

43 Explanations for IQ scores
Many critics to question whether IQ really measures intelligence or some sort of "test-taking" skill IQ test questions are "culturally biased“

44 Schooling can affect intelligence
Attendance is the primary variable here, and regardless of debates over the quality of schooling, research has consistently shown that students who skip school on a relatively frequent or intermittent basis suffer from lower IQ When parents move a child to a better school, there may be a small, measurable increase in IQ, but it is just as likely that there will be no change in IQ

45 Family Factor Research
Motivating children toward intelligence via encouragement, coaching, and modeling Studies have consistently shown that smaller families (with less children) tend to produce higher-IQ children Also, first-born children are usually the smartest, with IQ decreasing as one moves down the birth order Prenatal care for expectant mothers is very important, and there is a condition known as fetal alcohol syndrome (low IQ and behavioral problems) which happens if the mother drinks large amounts of alcohol Prolonged malnutrition during infancy also produces low IQ

Download ppt "Biological Theories of Crime"

Similar presentations

Ads by Google