Describe Biological Theories of Criminality

Describe Biological Theories of Criminality

Biological Theories of Criminality Overview

  • Biological theories of criminality propose that individuals commit crimes due to certain inherent characteristics.

  • These theories suggest that genetics, biochemical imbalances or brain abnormalities may strongly contribute to criminal behaviour.

Genetically-Influenced Theories

  • The twin studies showed a higher concordance rate for criminal behaviour among identical twins compared to fraternal twins. This suggests a possible genetic influence in criminality.

  • Adoption studies also found that adoptees with a biological parent who has a criminal conviction, have a higher likelihood to commit crimes, indicating a potential hereditary factor.

  • Biosocial theory argues that while genetic predispositions can influence someone’s tendency towards crime, social factors or environment will also play a substantial role in determining the outcome.

Biological Makeup and Crime

  • Some theories link hormone imbalances or neurological disorders to criminality. For example, it’s suggested that individuals with higher testosterone levels or with certain brain injuries are more likely to commit crimes.

  • Neurocriminology studies brain images to understand the brain structures and functions linked to criminal behaviour. This field has found that abnormalities in certain areas of the brain (like prefrontal cortex) may increase one’s likelihood of antisocial behaviour.

  • Neurotransmitter theories suggest that imbalances in body’s chemical messengers could be linked with criminal actions. Particularly, it’s said that low serotonin and high dopamine levels might be associated with impulsivity and aggression respectively, traits often seen in criminal offenders.

Critiques and Considerations

  • While these theories provide an important angle, they cannot fully explain all types of criminality.

  • Many critics highlight that these theories do not consider socio-economic or environmental factors that play significant roles in criminal behaviour.

  • Also, a biological predisposition towards crime doesn’t mean an individual will definitely become a criminal. It rather suggests an increased vulnerability which along with other factors may lead towards criminal behaviour.

  • Ethical considerations must be remembered when studying and applying these theories, as they may lead to problematic conclusions like determinism or stigmatisation of certain groups.