2.3 An Integrative look at criminal behavior

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2.3 AN INTEGRATIVE LOOK AT
CRIMINAL BEHAVIOR
BIOLOGICAL LEVEL OF ANALYSIS
Are some people born to be criminals?
 Is crime specific to ethnic groups, gender,
physical characteristics?
 What is the biological, cognitive and sociocultural
aspect of criminal behavior?
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ARE SOME PEOPLE BORN TO BE
CRIMINALS?
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3 biological theories
Genetics
 Brain abnormalities
 Neurochemical imbalances
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GENETICS
Crime runs in the family? Is this all genetic?
 Christiansen (1977)
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Twin study, (n=3586 sets)
 Found concordance (i.e. criminal activity)
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35% MZ males twins
 13% DZ male twins
 21% MZ female twins
 8% DZ female twins
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Are these concordance rates high or low?
 How would you evaluate the findings? (pg61)
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GENETICS CONT.,
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Hutchings and Mednick (1975)
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If both the biological and adaptive fathers had a
criminal record, then
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If only the biological father had a criminal record
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11.5% sons had criminal record
When neither father had a criminal record
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21.4% sons had criminal record
If only the adoptive father had a criminal record
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36.2% sons also had criminal record
10.5 % of sons had criminal record
What does this study demonstrate?
2 LIMITATIONS OF GENETIC ARGUMENTS
What is the probability that there is a gene
specific for criminal behavior? How do you
evaluate criminal behavior?
 Criminal behavior follows age patterns, reaching
peak when age 20 and declining at age 30.
genetically speaking, why does this change over a
lifetime?
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THE BRAIN
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Interrelationships
between emotions and
decision making.
Emotions: controlled by
limbic system
 Decisions: frontal lobe

http://webspace.ship.edu/cgboer
/limbicsystem.html
http://www.stanford.edu/gr
oup/hopes/cgibin/wordpress/2010/06/thehopes-brain-tutorial-textversion/#limbic-system
INTERRELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN EMOTIONS
AND DECISION MAKING.
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Blair et al. (1999): [key study sheet]
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Subject: brains of psychopath
Method: Natural
Procedure: PET
Results: impairment of pathways between the
amygdala and frontal lobe
Conclusion: impairment makes it difficult for
individuals to moderate their behavior.
Frontal Brain Hypothesis
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A malfunctioning of the relationship between the
frontal brain and the limbic system may cause
criminal behavior.
What about Brain Trauma?
NEUROTRANSMITTERS AND HORMONES
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Is there a gender difference regarding criminal
behavior?
90.1 % of apprehended murderers were male
 82.1 % violent crimes committed by males
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(2004 US FBI report)
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What is the relationship with neurotransmitters?
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Low levels 5-HT
Antisocial behavior
 impulsive
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Testosterone
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James Dabbs demonstrated higher levels of testosterone
associated with increased violence.
*note: these are correlations – does that show a cause
and effect?
ARE BIOLOGICAL FACTORS ALONE, ENOUGH TO
ESTABLISH CAUSES FOR CRIMINAL BEHAVIOR?
What if psychologist could determine that
criminals have a biological predisposition
towards their behavior? Should the courts be
more lenient in enacting penalties?
 How would that affect the government view on
the thought of punishment as a deterrent to
crime?
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CRIMINAL BEHAVIOR:
COGNITIVE LEVELS OF ANALYSIS
YOCHELSON AND SAMENOW (1976)
HOW DO CRIMINALS THINK?
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Cognitive distortions: an error in the way we
process information.
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Blaming others fro your own failures
Super-optomistism: extremely wishful or magical
thinking.
“I think, therefore it is” : not being able to accept
mistakes
Minimizing: limit the significance of a behavior to
prevent taking responsibility for ones actions.
Build up: exaggerating ones accomplishments to
make ourselves look better in the eyes of others.
This study only addressed criminal, i.e. it did not
look at the non-criminal population.
CORNISH AND CLARK (1987)
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Rational choice theory: criminal behavior is
the outcome of a reasoned decision-making
process.
Criminals seek to benefit from their crimes.
 Cost to benefit analysis:
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Risk
 Financial reward
 Ease of breaking in
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* The results of this study were from burglars.
CRIMINAL BEHAVIOR:
THE SOCIOCULTURAL LEVELS OF
ANALYSIS
Social and culture expectations that people have
on individuals.
Economic and political realities
POVERTY: MESSNER (1988)
Are those who earn less more likely to commit
crime?
 Messner found a high correlation between
structural poverty and crime rate as opposed to
income level and crime rate.
 Structural poverty – a holistic view of
addressing criminal behavior and socioeconomic
status.
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Single parent families
 Low levels of education
 High infant mortality
 Low social mobility
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POVERTY CONT.,
Unemployment and Crime?
 Social factors may interact with biological factors
and lead to criminal behavior?
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Poverty and stress
 Stress and brain development
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LABELING AND SELF-FULFILLING
PROPHECIES
Self-fulfilling prophecy: we live up to the
expectations or label that we are given.
 “Troublemaker” “rebel” “gangbanger” – does
giving a person a label begin to hardwire them
toward that characteristic?
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Jahoda’s (1954): Study on the Ashanti people of
Ghana
Ashanti custom of naming boys according to the day of the
week they are born.
 A day of the week predicts a future temperament
 Monday = calm, reserved & peaceful
 Wednesday = problematic, aggressive.
 Boys born on Wednesday had a higher arrest record
relative to boys born on Monday
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CRITICAL THINKING:
Is criminal behavior primarily biologically based?
 To what extend do biological and sociocultural
factors determine criminal behavior?
 What factors contribute most to criminal
behavior – biological, sociocultural or cognitive?
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Article: Self Fulfilling Prophecy
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What other study did we address that looks at the
self-fulfilling prophecy?

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