Psychological Explanations - Biological Explanations, Genetic theories


What are generic theories?

Genetic theory is the notion that criminality is genetically transmitted. A gene can be defined as a region of DNA that controls a hereditary characterisitc. A gene carries biological information in a form that must be copied and transmitted from each cell to all its progency.

The XYY gene has been strongly associated with being 'criminal' than XY males. Early research on XYY males found it to be a rare occurance in the general population but also found it to be pravalent condition amoungst the prison population. As a result in America men identified as having the XYY gene were detain as a preventive measure. It has been argued that they should be acquitted of their crimes since they are the victims of inheritance and therefore not responsible for their crimes. (Alkinson et al 1991).  Later research on XYY males demonstrated that XYY had been overestimated in the prison population and underestimated in the general population (Ainsworth and Pease 1987). XYY males have lower IQ scores XY men, which may explain why they are more likely to be convicted for minor offences (Witkin et al 1976). 

The MAOA gene and the Cadherin 13 gene have also been assosicated with criminality. The MAOA gene is an enzyme that normally functions in neutronal mitochondria by breaking down several key mitochondria by breaking down several key neuronsmitters: serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine which are important in aggression, emotion and cognition. Cadherin 13 has been linked to impluse control. Both genes are located in the Y chromosome. Lower levels of serotonin produced which can lead to difficulties controlling emotional responses to anger in the amygdala. Severe low levels of serotonin can lead to a condition called 'intermittent explosive disorder' (characterisied by sudden explosive outbursts of rage often resulting in violence). Seotonin inhibits behavioural responses to provocative events and regulates aggressive/violent actions. Lower levels of serotonin have been found


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