Biological Theories of Crime (WJEC)

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  • Biological Theories of Crime
    • Lombroso (1876): Believed all criminals were another species: The Retarded Species
      • Argued that they have distinctive facial features
        • Sloping forehead
        • Protruding Chin
        • Large ears
        • Hollowed Eye Ridges
      • Believed that all anti-social behaviour was a result of their actions being suited for more primative times & were unable to adapt to normal society life
      • However the theory is heavily criticized as other factors lead to similar characteristics
        • Sample was biased
    • William Sheldon: Believed 3 body types corresponded to 3 personalities
      • Ectomorph: Thin & Fragile, Intellectual & Restrained, Prone to Schizophrenia
      • Endomorph:  Fat & Soft, Sociable & Relaxed, Prone to Depression
      • Mesomorph: Muscular & Hard, Aggressive. Prone to Delinquency
      • Using a correlational study Sheldon found that many were Mesomorphs and less likely to be Ectomorphs
        • Heavily critised as it shows no link between mesomorphs and crime
        • Glueck & Glueck (1956): Found  in a sample of Delinquents 60% were Mesomorphs (Provides Support)
    • XYY Syndrome: Found in the 60's. A genetic explanation for abnormalities in behaviour
      • The presence of an extra Y chromosome leads to aggression but there is not a connection to crime
        • Jacobs et al (1965): There are 15 sufferers per 1000 in prison & 1 per 1000 in the population
      • Price et al (1963): 28% of men in a scottish state insitute for the mentally insane had the XYY syndrome
    • Twin Studies: Identical Twins (MZ)
      • Believed that consistency in results between twins will show a genetic explanation for crime
        • Identical twins are always the same sex, share the same interests, including criminal ones, and the same living environment
          • But it is hard to interpret results as twins look alike and may generate similar social responses
    • Adoptive Studies
      • Used to see if  genetics of an adoptive family determine the extent of criminal behaviour
      • Families often choose children that are similar to the original family
      • Crowe (1974):  In a sample of 52 adopted children of women in prison it was found that 7 have at least one criminal convictions themselves
      • Mendrick, Gaberelli & Hutchings (1987): Found that boys with criminal parents with a conviction are more likely to have a conviction themselves


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