• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

An assessment of criminal behaviour from a biological perspective

Extracts from this document...


An assessment of criminal behaviour from a biological perspective Prior to 1990 there was a huge amount of research looking at biological and biochemical factors in relation to criminal activity, studies by Hippchen (1978) looked at the role of vitamin and mineral deficiencies in criminal behaviour and the effect vitamin B3 deficiency has on children and adolescents, however Weiss (1983) argued that hyperactive children have an increased risk at later delinquency, other such studies have examined dietary factors such as levels of protein, carbohydrates and sugar in relation to criminal behaviour. Following 1990 there have been a number of studies in the area of biology and it's relation to crime, it has long been argued that physiological under arousal may be a causal determinant of violent and criminal behaviour (Eysenk, 1977, Hare 1970, Quay, 1965) and following several studies into the subject under-arousal by Raine and Liu (1998) it was found that low levels of physiological arousal at an early teenage age influence the chance of criminal activity in later life, other biological factors were also found during the studies, violent adults were found to often have dysfunctions to the prefrontal regions of the brain and it was also found that birth complications and maternal rejection at age one influenced the chance of violent crime at age eighteen. The theory is supported by Miller et al. (1997) in this study the presence of antisocial conduct was compared in a random sample of 22 patients with frontal lobe damage versus 22 participants with no known damage, results showed that 10 patients with frontal ...read more.


The physical abnormality can be caused by genetic and biochemical factors. Therefore, psychopathic personality is predisposed innately and is unaffected by socialization. Psychopath experiences lower arousal levels to stimuli and react differently from the normal. Therefore, it is possible that psychopaths are thrill seekers who engage in high-risk, antisocial activities to raise their general neurological level to a more optimal rate (Senna & Siegel, 1990). Criminals are potential psychopaths who devoted in risky activities. There is much evidence suggesting that biology has a major part to play in the development of aggressive and criminal behaviour, yet this cannot be put down as the sole reason, a major argument against this view is the argument for freewill and determinism, a argument that stems back hundreds of years to classical theorists such as Cesare Beccaria and Jeremy Bentham. The central points of this theory are, The human being is a rational actor, it also looks at people freely choosing all their behaviour based on their rational calculations, The central element of calculation involves a cost benefit analysis: Pleasure versus Pain, Choice, with all other conditions equal, will be directed towards the maximization of individual pleasure, Choice can be controlled through the perception and understanding of the potential pain or punishment that will follow an act judged to be in violation of the social good, however there does not seem to be much evidence of this view since 1990 and positivist research on social, psychological, and biological causes of crime focused attention on the factors that impose upon and constrain the rational choice of individuals. ...read more.


it is shown that under arousal may be critically involved in the development of antisocial and criminal behaviour, 101 fifteen year olds were taken using a random sample, the resting skin conductance heart rate and EEG activity were measured, the 101 subjects were then reassessed nine years later at twenty-four, criminals were found to have lower resting heart rates, slow wave EEG and reduced skin conductance. As a criticism to Raine et al. it could be argued that living a delinquent life could lower heart rate, due to the excitement and exercise they may be involved in, but then again a fit non- criminal may have the same heart rate. This particular study does not seem to look at the seriousness of the crime and the specific crime, it is thought that a small crime like getting into a fight would be different to an armed robbery and there would be more fear in certain crimes, this phenomenon was looked at by (Raine and Jones, 1987) they suggested that an individual who is lacking in fear would be more likely to become involved in violent fight because they are not afraid of the consequences. Overall, after assessing all the information, it Seems like biology and genetics can explain and predict some aspects of criminal behaviour, but there are a number of other factors that contribute to the development of criminal behaviour, crime can therefore not be explained by any one factor, the biological explanations have great validity and will be continually worked on but other factors such as social and individual reasons must be taken into consideration to create a full understanding of the subject and explanations of crime as a whole. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Social Psychology section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Social Psychology essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    Preventing and Reducing Crime

    3 star(s)

    (Brewer, K.) Further research: Bandura, Ross and Ross (1963) and Jeffery (1965). There are many ways in which crime is learned. The social factors include family, (Patterson, 1982), (Bowlby, 1946), (Rutter, 1971), Economic factors, (Farrington and West, 1990), (Witt, Clarke and Fielding, 1999), Lone-parent families and social rules.

  2. Psychology of Crime

    Ecological validity is an issue when examining usefulness as it would allow us to predict how useful recall and recognition is in everyday situations. Fisher's study is high in ecological validity as it involved tasks that the detectives would conduct in their everyday jobs.

  1. Pro and Anti Social Behaviour

    The others (India, Japan, Philippines and Mexico) were in-between the two extremes. This shows that there are significant cross-cultural differences in pro-social behaviour. Further evidence which supports the claim (i.e. that individualistic cultures stress the need for independence whereas collectivist cultures stress the need for interdependence)

  2. Physiological Arousal and its Effects on Females interpretations of physical attractiveness

    By getting two groups to rate the pictures at separate times, I am cancelling out any confounding variables as the pictures are only being rated against themselves rather than against each other. The data was analysed for average statistical significance difference using a sign test.

  1. "Anti-Social Behaviour is caused by a person's family background"

    a substantial proportion of the population if they followed socially approved means of obtaining these goals, so instead people turn to crime and deviance. This may be true for someone from a low economic background where they may feel that their goals are restricted because of their financial situation and

  2. Anti-Social Behaviour Orders have been promoted as 'mixing the best of the civil and ...

    The ASBO in itself is a measure aimed at stopping the anti-social behaviour at issue, rather than being seeking to exclusively punish the offender. The Order will contain a list of things that the offender cannot do, e.g. cannot attend a certain area, must not be on the streets after 7 p.m.

  1. Sexual dysfunctions are dyadic phenomena. Discuss.

    Five stages of intimacy development: 1) Conflagration: a stage where sexual and perhaps emotional fusion reach their peak together with sexual desire and passion. Nevertheless, this desire according to Lobitz and Lobitz (1996)

  2. AS Communication Studies Presentation

    Back to the Real World... I will inform audience members of some of the effects that this film has had throughout the world. (Quotes taken from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angelina_Jolie)

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work