Analyse Situations of Criminality

Analyse Situations of Criminality

Understanding the Causes of Criminality

Biological Theories

  • Biological theories suggest criminal behaviour has a physiological basis. Psychiatrists and neurologists (who call such factors “biomarkers”) have identified certain brain abnormalities they believe increase the risk of criminal behaviour.
  • Sheldon’s Theory of Somatotypes proposes the idea that certain body types might incline individuals towards criminal behaviour: endomorphs (fat), mesomorphs (muscular), and ectomorphs (thin).
  • The XYY theory suggests that men with an extra Y chromosome are more inclined to be aggressive and thus commit crime.
  • Factors like a poor diet, low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), and lead poisoning have also been suggested to increase likelihood of criminal behaviour.

Psychological Theories

  • Psychological theories focus on how an individual’s mental processes impact their criminal behaviour.
  • Psychoanalytic Theory (Freud) suggests behaviour patterns are largely set during early childhood, including the tendency towards criminal behaviour. Ego, Superego, and Id are his main concepts.
  • Personality Theory – Eysenck’s Theory denotes that personality traits such as extraversion, neuroticism, and psychoticism may lead to criminal behaviour. He proposed criminals score high in these traits.
  • Cognitive Theory (Thinking Patterns) talks about how criminal minds often have distorted thinking processes—they often justify their actions or fail to consider others’ welfare.

Sociological Theories

  • Sociological theories argue that social situations are the primary cause of crime.
  • Strain Theory (Merton) posits that criminality arises from the rigidity of social structures. Either the goals cannot be achieved by legitimate means, or there are too few opportunities.
  • The Subcultural Theory (Cohen) suggests that adolescent boys who cannot achieve status or success may join gangs, forming a subculture where criminal actions are valued.
  • Labelling Theory puts forth that being labelled as a “criminal” can lead to further crime. It can harm one’s self-image and increase association with criminal peers.

Environmental Theories

  • Broken Windows Theory suggests that visible signs of disorder and misbehaviour in an environment encourage further crime and disorder.
  • Routine Activity Theory states crime is likely to occur when motivated offenders, suitable targets, and lack of capable guardians converge in time and space.
  • CPTED (Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design) theorises that the physical environment can be altered to reduce crime opportunities—this includes street lighting, creation of natural surveillance, and territorial reinforcement.

Remember, these theories can overlap and so understanding the complexities of them is important to analysing situations of criminality.