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An assessment of criminal behaviour from a biological perspective

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Introduction

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.

Middle

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.

Conclusion

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.

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