Criminal Behaviour

Characteristics of Criminal Behaviour 

  • Far and Gibbons produced many categories of crime focussing on the intention behind it
  • The crimes are collected by the ONS
  • Crime is normal, we all do it
  • Laws are different in every country 
  • So many different crimes, it's hard to study

Biological Explanation 1 - |Inherited Criminality

Genetic factors;

  • Raine found a 52% concordance rate for delinquent behaviour in identical twins compared to 21% rate for non-identical twins
  • One gene in particular (the MAOA) known as the 'warrior gene' in shown in abnormally low levels of criminals. Brunner studied a Dutch family involved with **** and murder.
  • Maybe epigenetic, this is when genes are switched on and off and will determine behaviour and can be affected by the environment the individual has been in.


  • Reduced activity in the prefrontal cortex
  • Low serotonin and high dopamine 
  • Low noradrenaline 

Evaluation of biological explanation 1 

Adoption studies;

  • Crowe found that adopted kids who had biological parents as criminals were around 40% more likely to have a criminal record by the age of 18

Non-violent crimes;

  • Most of the genetic research is done on violent criminals 
  • Doesn't provide a specific explanation for behaviours such as fraud
  • Could just be a social construction


  • In Crowe's adoption study, 60% are still unlikely to turn out criminal
  • Could be down to social upbringing.

Biological Explanation 2 - The Role of the Amygdala

Structure and function of the amygdala;

  • Located in the temporal lobe and is part of the limbic system
  • It is neurally connected to the hypothalamus, hippocampus and the prefrontal cortex.

Amygdala and aggression;

  • Coccaro investigated people with explosive behaviour disorders looking at their brain scans. There was high activity in the amygdala when they were angry.

Amygdala and fear conditioning;

  • The amygdala is responsible for the association of aggression and punishment
  • The child cannot respond to social cues so does not think it's wrong.

Evaluation of biological explanation 2;


  • Offer money in an unfair and fairway, high amygdala activity is shown when the unfair option is chosen.

Not just the amygdala;

  • It is thought and shown the amygdala does not act on its own to produce aggressive behaviour
  • Raine found high activity in the amygdala but low neural activity in the prefrontal cortex so it can't be the amygdala alone

It's only a risk factor;

  • Damage to the amygdala means that it can't process fear and anxiety info properly
  • Affects the fight or flight response

Individual Differences Explanation 1 - Eysenck's criminal personality

Theory of personality;


No comments have yet been made