sheldons somatotype theory

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  • Sheldon's theory of somatotypes.
    • He advanced a theory that criminal behaviour is linked to a person's physical form.
      • There are 3 bodily builds which were identified by Sheldon.
        • 1)Ectomorph:(thin) they are soliditary and restrained.
          • 2)Endomorph: (fat) they are relaxed and hedonistic.
            • 3) Mesomorph: (muscular) they are energetic and adventurous.
    • Pure somatotypes are rare, and most people represent a blend of different types.
    • Sheldon's theory claims that mesomorphs are more prone criminal activity than ectomorphs or endomorphs.
    • Sheldon assessed the somatotypes of samples of college students and delinquents from photographs.
      • Each pgotograph was rated for mesomorphy on a scale of 1-7 being the highest.
        • It was found that the deslinquents had a higher mean of mesomorphy rating than the college students (4.6-3.8).
    • Hartl et al (1982) found that the most seriously delinquent of Sheldon's sample had the mean mesomorphy rating of 5.
    • It might be that a mesomorphic bodily build refelects high testosterone levels, which may result in high levels of aggressiveness.
    • Due to the stereotypes people have about mesomorphs, they may be drawn into delinguent behaviour due to their peer groups.
      • The judicial system may treat mesomorphs more harshly, increasing the likelyhood that they will officially be labled as a criminal (Blackburn 1993)


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