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Biology and Crime. Early Positivism: the legacy of the early 1900s Sociological Criticism and Dominance New Directions in Biological research Heredity research Biological Harms Biological Correlates Biosocial Theory. Early Biological Positivism. Lombroso’s “born criminal”

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biology and crime
Biology and Crime
  • Early Positivism: the legacy of the early 1900s
  • Sociological Criticism and Dominance
  • New Directions in Biological research
    • Heredity research
    • Biological Harms
    • Biological Correlates
    • Biosocial Theory
early biological positivism
Early Biological Positivism
  • Lombroso’s “born criminal”
    • Darwinist theory of “atavism”
  • Various theories of the “feeble-minded”
  • Charles Goring, E.A. Hooten
    • body stature and weight
  • The XYY supermale
  • Commonality of all these theories?
biology from 1940 1980s
Biology from 1940-1980s
  • Any hint of “biological research” was ridiculed, ignored, treated as “taboo.”
    • Current Sociologists? Criticism was warranted
    • Current Psychologists? “Knowledge destruction techniques”
  • 1990s-present: rebirth of biological research
    • Is modern biological research or theory any better?
the heritability of crime
The Heritability of Crime
  • Family Studies
    • “Jukes,” and “Killikaks” (major flaws)
    • BUT – crime does appear to run in families
  • Twin Studies
    • Christianson (1977)
    • “Concordance” rates: MZ (36%), DZ (12%)
    • Criticism of twin studies?
  • Adoption studies
    • “cross fostering” analyses
    • criminal history of biological parents vs. adoptive parents
molecular genetics
Molecular Genetics
  • Gene Linkage Analysis
    • Hans Brunner and associates and the crazy Dutch family
      • However, such “one gene one disorder” (OGOD) situations unlikely to explain much crime
  • The Human Genome Project
    • Genome = the total DNA in an organism
      • Some evidence for genes related to “novelty seeking” and ADD/ADHD
      • Combinations of genes may “nudge” behavior
biological harms
Biological Harms
  • Prenatal or Perinatal insults
    • Maternal drinking/smoking, delivery complications, low birthweight, etc.
  • Exposure to toxins– lead
    • Especially for kids (brain/CNS still developing)
      • Sources of Lead Exposure
      • Cincinnati Lead Study (and others)
assuming that something is inherited or harmed
Assuming that something is inherited or harmed...
  • Biological Correlates of Crime
    • Brain Activity & Central Nervous System
      • PET scans
      • Neurochemicals (serotonin)
      • Frontal Lobe = planning, self-monitoring, etc.
    • Autonomic Nervous System
      • Heart rate, skin conductance
    • Indirect measures (IQ, neuro-psych tests)
    • ADD/ADHD, personality traits .....
many things point to arousal
Many things point to “arousal”
  • Simple explanation = under aroused seek out thrills (such as crime)
    • Related = higher level of fearlessness
  • Others = arousal may relate to conditioning
    • Mednick’s biosocial theory
mednick s biosocial theory
Mednick’s biosocial theory
  • Children refrain from crime when consistently socialized to do so (similar to?)
    • Parental efficacy (consistent rewards/punishment) and social context of parenting
    • Children have different “learning ability”
      • Some do not feel the “sting” of punishment
      • Low cortical arousal, low nesting heart rate, etc.
  • Potent mix = poor parenting and low arousal
policy implications
POLICY IMPLICATIONS
  • Early Positivism
    • Eugenics (quotes from Hooten, others)
  • Biosocial Criminology
    • Biology may identify “high risk” kids
    • Prevention can target “social” factors
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