Outline the Atavistic form - refer to research in your answer.
A historical approach to offending. Lombroso (1876): Criminals are genetic throwbacks who cannot cope with the demands of civilised society. Characteristics include: Strong jaw, high cheekbones, asymmetric face. Also dark skin and extra toes. Examined over 4000 convicts, 40% of criminal acts related to the atavistic form.
Outline Lombroso’s contribution to criminology.
Lombroso has been hailed as the father of modern criminology. Shifted emphasis from moralistic discourse towards a scientific realm. Tried to describe how particular types of people are likely to commit particular types of crimes → beginning of criminal profiling.
Outline why Lombroso’s work has been criticised for being scientifically racist.
Many of the features he identified were associated with people of black African origin. His description of them being uncivilised would have leant support to eugenics philosophies. Whether it was intended or not - it still overshadows criminology.
Outline some contradictory research to the Atavistic form.
Goring (1913). Set out to establish if there were any physical or mental abnormalities among criminal classes. Could find no evidence to support all of Lombroso’s claims - offenders did seem to have lower than average intelligence. Research offers some support in terms of IQ being an issue, however not in terms of physical attributes.
Outline the issue of causation associated with Lombroso’s research.
The criminals in the study did have some of the atavistic elements in their appearance. This does not have to be the cause of their offending. Could be due to poor nutrition or poverty, rather than delayed evolutionary development. In his later work Lombroso acknowledges that criminals can be made as well as born -
environmental factor taken into account.
Outline genetic explanations for criminality.
Twin studies. Christianson: 33% concordance rate for MZ twins and 12% for DZ twins. Suggests some form of a genetic link.
Candidate genes. A combination of MAOA (linked to dopamine and serotonin) and CDH13 (linked to ADHD and substance abuse) have been implicated as the genetic basis of criminality in a study in Finland (Tihonen et al.).
Diathesis-Stress Model. A genetic predisposition to crime is triggered by a social psychological stressor e.g. dysfunctional environment.
Outline Neural Explanations for criminality.
Neural differences in the brains of people diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder - linked with a lack of empathy and reduced emotional responses → many convicts have these traits. Prefrontal Cortex. Reduced activity in the prefrontal cortex - regulation of emotional behaviour. Raine et al.: 11% less grey matter in the prefrontal cortex of criminals. Mirror Neurons. Recent research suggests people with APD can experience empathy, but do so more sporadically than others. Keyser et al.: found that only when criminals were asked to empathise did their empathy reaction (controlled by mirror neurons) activate. Suggests that people with APD can empathise but have a neural switch, unlike the normal brain where empathy is always on.
Describe problems with twin and adoption studies. (Forensic)
Twin: Poor control & Zygosity was based on appearance rather than DNA. Small samples / unusual samples. Raised in the same environment is a confounding variable.
Adoption: Late adoption (children may have spent a lot of time with their parents before getting adopted) and contact with biological parents after adoption are confounding variables.
Provide support for the diathesis stress model. (Forensic)
Mednick et al: 20% if biological parents were criminals and 24.5% if both biological and adoptive parents. 13.5% if neither biological nor adoptive parents were. Genetics play an important role, but environment cannot be ignored.
Evaluate these explanations in terms of determinism and reductionism. (Forensic)
Biological reductionism: Explanations that reduce offending to a genetic or neural level may be overly simplistic.
Biological Determinism: The discovery of a criminal gene presents an ethical dilemma: What do we do with people who have it?
Why is Differential Association Theory known as the SLT of offending?
Individual learn attitudes, values, techniques and motives for criminal behaviour.
Learned through association and interaction with different people.
Outline Differential Association Theory.
Sutherland: set of principles to explain all types of offending. Crime seen as a learned behaviour acquired from significant others that the child associates with. If pro-criminal attitudes exceed anti-criminal, the person will offend - should be possible to mathematically predict the likelihood of offending if the extent of exposure is known. Offender learns techniques of offending through imitation or direct tuition in prison. The theory also accounts for why released convicts go on to re-offend.
Outline 2 strengths of Differential Association Theory.
Explanatory power - can account for crime within all sectors of society including ‘white collar crime’. Working-class - burglary; middle class, white-collar crime. Comes down to sharing norms and values.
Shift of focus. Draws attention to dysfunctional environments as a cause of crime. Shifts focus away from early biological accounts and those focusing on immorality and weakness. More desirable as it offers realistic solutions instead of eugenics or punishment.
Explain the issue of individuals difference in relation to differential association
Not everyone who is exposed to crime, will go on to commit crime. May lead to stereotyping of people from poorer, crime-riddled backgrounds.
Environmental determinism - criminal behaviour through associating with other criminals and being exposed to pro-criminal attitudes and adopting these values as our own.