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Transcript
Question: What biological and social factors could account for criminality?
Topic E: are criminals born or
made?
WEEK 1

TO EXAMINE BIOLOGICAL AND SOCIAL CAUSES OF CRIMINALITY.

TO ANSWER THE QUESTION: ‘TO WHAT EXTEND IS NATURE RESPONSIBLE FOR CRIMINALITY?’
Week 1
Biological 1 - genetics

Genetics ‘Like father, like son’

Family studies – comparing the family trees of criminals and
non-criminals.

Adoption studies

Mednick (1984)

Examined 14,427 adopted children. Mednick examined how many
adopted children had criminal records, in comparison to their biological
parents.

He found that adopted children with criminal records for property theft,
also had biological fathers with criminal records, suggesting a possible
genetic link.
Biological 2 – twin studies

Twin studies

Two types of twin – MZ (monozygotic) and DZ (dizygotic) who
shared 100% and 50% of their genes respectively.

Christiansen (1977) examined 2586 pairs of twins in Denmark.

He found a concordance rate of 52% for MZ and 22% for DZ. That is, if one
MZ twin was a criminal, there was a 52% chance the other would be. This
link was found for property crime.
What does the difference in % between MZ and DZ indicate?
 What do twin studies suggestion about the role of nature vs.
nurture for criminality?

Biological 3 - Chromosomes

XYY Chromosomes



XYY is a chromosome abnormality.
It is exceptionally rare – 0.04% (Theilgaard, 1984)
Researchers discovered that males with XYY were more likely to
display violent and criminal behaviours.

Men with the disorder are more aggressive and slower at learning, than
average.
Does this chromosome abnormality provide a biological link
to criminality?
 What other factors (highlighted above) could play a role in
criminality?

Theilgaard (1984)

Aim: To examine whether criminals had a particular gene associated with their
behaviour.

Method:


Blood samples from 30,000 men born in the 1940s.

Two abnormalities found XXY (0.053%) and XYY (0.04%).

These men were interviewed by a social worker (to find out about background and criminal history).
A personality test was also conducted.
Results:


Conclusion:


XYY males had slightly lower levels of intelligence and tended to be more aggressive.
This could be interpreted as evidence for a criminal gene, if aggression is a sign of criminality
What strengths and weaknesses can you identify with the Theilgaard (1984) study.
Week 1 – Biological Summary
Summarise the three biological explanations of criminality and answer the following:
‘To what extent is nature responsible for criminality?’
Social causes of criminality
LAST LESSON WE EXAMINED THE BIOLOGICAL FACTORS OF CRIMINALITY.
WHAT WERE THE THREE DIFFERENT FACTORS WE EXAMINED?
WHAT THREE SOCIAL FACTORS ARE YOU REQUIRED TO EXAMINE FOR YOUR EXAM.
Week 2
Social 1 – family patterns

Divorce

Single parent or ‘broken homes’

Research suggests that children from broken homes may be twice as likely to become criminals.

Typically boys with no father figures can become aggressive.

However, this reason is complicated. What other factors could complicate this reason?

Separation from primary caregiver (deprivation).


Lack of attachment, particularly before the age of 2 can have long lasting effects.

Bowlby (1946) questioned 44 offenders. 14 showed no shame or guilt (a disorder known as affectionless psychopathy).
12/14 of these boys had separation from their primary caregiver prior to the age of 2, whereas only 5/30 of the remaining
criminals experienced this separation. (These criminals did show shame/guilt).
Family size – Farrington (2002) found that families with lots of children, around 6/7, were more likely to show a
higher rate of criminality. Again, this an be linked to variety of factors:

Lack of attention

Lower incomes, or income that is required to stretch further

Fewer educational opportunities
Social 2 – childrearing strategies

How a parent brings their children up. There are three childrearing strategies are referred to when parents deal with
naughty children.

Induction



Explaining what the child has done wrong and the consequences.

Child develops a sense of wrongdoing.

Encourages empathy – as the child learns from another perspective.
Love withdrawal

Here the parents withdraws their affection and makes the child feel guilty.

The child’s feelings are manipulated – so they do not develop a sense of individuality and independence because of this
rejection.
Power Assertion – can involve hitting, smacking, criticism, etc.

This strategy is most often associated with delinquency and leads to low self esteem, especially if,

Punishment is inconsistent.

Punishment is severe.

Threats are not seen through .
Social 3 – self-fulfilling prophecy



Anyone (parents, teachers, friends) can impact how you feel about yourself
and the decisions you make.
If someone expects us to behave badly or in a criminal way, then we may
conform to that expectation. The SFP states that the prediction(s) of our
behaviour will come true.
Rosenthal & Jacobsen (1968) examined if school achievement could be selffulfilling.

Students took an IQ test and teachers were told which students were average and
which were high-achievers. This was a lie.

Teachers had lower expectations for average students and gave more attention to
‘high achievers.’

After 1 year, results revealed IQ increases for high achievers and IQ decreases for
low achievers. The teachers expectations of the child’s ability, alerted how they
were treated and as a result their actual ability.
Week 2