Biological Explanations of Criminal Behavior

1430 Words Jun 7th, 2013 6 Pages
Biological Explanations of Criminal Behavior

Nature and nurture contribute to the way a person behaves. This can be applied to the behaviors of criminals. According to Fishbein (1990, pg.37), “behavior [is] primarily attributed to inherited predispositions and genetic influences.” Nurture is the environmental influence that shape human behavior (Fishbein, 1990, pg.37). Human genetics and environmental factors contribute to the uniqueness to a person’s behavior. However, there are underlying qualities in a criminal’s historical background. Aspects of the nature and nurturing of a criminal behavior includes some problems with earlier biological explanations and some recent biological explanations which have overcome the weaknesses of
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The classical school and positive school were considered as early biological explanations to the development of criminal minds. According to Sacco and Kennedy (2008, pg.116) the recent biological explanations are different compared to the earlier biological explanations in several ways. The recent explanation is concentrated more on genetic factors. Additionally, “the impact of biological factors is mediated by the social environment” (Sacco & Kennedy, 2008, pg.116). There are four main approaches that have overcome the weaknesses of the earlier biological explanations: the general pedigree studies, twin studies, adoption studies, and karyotype studies. The general pedigree studies involve people that are related to one another to see if they behave in similar ways. These studies show that people who manifest criminal behaviour are more likely to have offspring that do the same (Cartwright, 2009). However, evidence for the causality of criminal behaviour by genetics is lacking. Other factors that are environmental and accumulative should be considered (Cartwright, 2009). Twin studies on the other hand, avoid the problem that the pedigree studies face. In twin studies, monozygotic (MZ) twins and dizygotic (DZ) twins are tested. According to Fishbein (1990, pg. 54), MZ twins inherit one hundred percent of their parents genes whereas DZ twins only inherit fifty percent. Studies have shown that if an MZ is involved in a criminal behavior, the other
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