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Introduction to Criminology CRJ 270 Instructor: Jorge Pierrott.

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1 Introduction to Criminology CRJ 270 Instructor: Jorge Pierrott

2 Chapter Objectives After reading this chapter, students should be able to answer the following questions: What are the differences between historical biological and contemporary biosocial theories of crime? What are the basic principles of biological theories of crime? How does the positivist school explain criminality? How does sociobiology explain crime, and what is the importance of altruism, territoriality and tribalism in that perspective What are the policy implications of biological theories? What are some criticisms of early biological theories of criminal behavior?

3 Traditional Biological versus Modern Biosocial Theories Criminology has been slow to give credence to biological theories Roots grounded in the social sciences Criminology today is interdisciplinary and recognizes contributions from many disciplines

4 Diet and Behavior 2012 – Dutch Ministry of Justice examined the link between good nutrition and antisocial behavior among prison inmates. Bernard Gesch’s research – Oxford University  500 inmates were studied  Good diets with low sugar content  26.3% fewer offenses  35.1% reduction in overall offenses in groups receiving supplements  37% drop of violent offenses

5 Principles of Biological Theories Early biological theorists focused mainly on physical features and heredity Contemporary biosocial theorists take a more in-depth look at human biology Major distinction is the emphasis placed on the interplay between biology and the social and physical environments

6 Figure 4-2 Fundamental Assumptions of Biological Theories of Crime Causation Source: Schmalleger, Frank J., Criminology. Printed and Electronically reproduced by permission of Pearson Education, Inc., Upper Saddle River, New Jersey.

7 Early Biological Theories Built on scientific tradition of positivism Positivism  Associated with the belief that all valid knowledge is acquired only through observation.  Build on: An unflagging acceptance of social determinism or consider free will and external forces as the cause of behavior The application of scientific techniques to the study of crime and criminology.

8 Early Biological Theories Key principles  Social determinism Early biological theories consider the role of the social environment to be relatively minor  Application of scientific techniques to the study of crime

9 Physical Features and Crime Focus on identifying physical abnormalities that could be used to distinguish offenders from others continued on next slide

10 Known Killers

11 Physical Features and Crime Phrenology  The study of the shape of the head to determine anatomical correlates of human behavior  Franz Joseph Gall – located the roots of personality in the brain  Johann Gaspar Spurzheim – brought phrenology to the U.S.

12 The Italian School Cesare Lombroso - atavism  Criminality is the result of primitive urges that survived the evolutionary process  Stigmata of degeneration – physical features indicative of criminality continued on next slide

13 The Italian School Criminaloids  “occasional criminals,” people led into crime by environmental influences Masculinity hypothesis  Criminal women exhibited masculine features and mannerisms

14 Evaluations of Atavism Earnest A. Hooton  Criminals are physiologically inferior to the general population Canadian atavism study (2000) found subtle physical abnormalities were associated with an increased risk of behavioral and psychiatric problems among boys

15 Constitutional Theories Explain criminality by reference to offenders' body types; genetics; or external, observable physical characteristics Somatotyping  Ernst Kretschmer  William H. Sheldon

16 Figure 4-3 Sheldon’s Body Types Source: Printed and Electronically reproduced by permission of Pearson Education, Inc., Upper Saddle River, New Jersey.

17 Criminal Families Sir Francis Galton – systematic study of heredity  field of behavioral genetics Criminal families  The Juke family – Richard L. Dugdale  The Kallikak family – Henry H. Goddard Eugenic criminology  Root causes of criminality were passed down in the form of “bad genes.”  Buck v. Bell (1927)

18 The XYY Supermale Research in 1965 led to concept of “supermale” with XYY chromosome – considered potentially violent Chromosome-based defense in court Recent research demonstrates conclusively that XYY males are not predictably aggressive

19 Twin Studies and Heredity Twin studies compare MZ and DZ twins to examine role of heredity in crime causation Research supports relationship between heredity and risk of criminality Minnesota Twin Family Study found MZ twins reared apart are about as similar as those reared together

20 Biological Roots of Human Aggression Charles Darwin:  Interspecies aggression favors the strongest and best animals in the reproductive process Konrad Lorenz – On Aggression (1966)  Human aggression serves other purposes but takes on covert forms (drive to acquire wealth and power)  Human behavior is adapted instinctive behavior

21 Sociobiology: The New Synthesis Introduced by Edward O. Wilson in 1975 Systematic study of the biological basis of all social behavior A new paradigm in criminological theories

22 Sociobiology The main determinant of behavior is the need to ensure the survival and continuity of genetic material throughout generations Altruism facilitates the continuity of the gene pool continued on next slide

23 Sociobiology Territoriality as an explanation of human conflict Used to explain both intergroup aggression (tribalism) and intragroup aggression

24 Criticisms of Sociobiology Fails to consider the significance of culture, social learning, individual experiences Fundamentally wrong in its depiction of basic human nature Rationalizes labeling, stigmatization of minorities continued on next slide

25 Criticisms of Sociobiology Humans are too different from other animal species to apply findings from animal studies to human behavior

26 Critique of Early Biological Theories of Human Behavior Disregard the role of free will in human behavior Crime is a social construct and its meaning varies over time and place Unlikely that any biological feature or combination of features could explain the wide variety of crime today

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