Biological Explanations of Criminal Behaviour

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Crime theories are still in a development stage; it is an evolutionary process that continues to this day. Crime is still a complex and misunderstood phenomenon with no concrete evidence when it comes to human behavior. Throughout time there have been endless amounts of crime theories, few of which revolve around biological explanations. We have Cesare Lombroso and the Positive School who thought that criminals were genetically different from the rest of the general population, that they were biologically aggressive, had criminal traits and/or born as criminals. There is also William Sheldon’s theory of body types, called the somatotype theory, that argued the mesomorph body type to be the most prone to commit crime or deviant behavior. Most recently is the studies on twin adoption used by behavioral geneticists to identify genetic and environmental influences. Although the question still lies, which factor gives more insight to criminal behavior: biological explanations or criminological theories. There is no concrete evidence to suggest that biological explanations have made a significant improvement since the days of Cesare Lombroso, the Positive School, William Sheldon’s somatotypes theory or the twin adoption studies. However arguments within biological explanations have advanced much further; it is arguable that biological explanations does not provide as much insight into criminal behavior as criminological theories, such as rational choice theory, routine activities theory or lifestyle exposure theory.

In the beginning of biological explanations there is the Positive School and Cesare Lombroso who believed criminals had certain physiognomic features or abnormalities. The goal is to detect future criminals and isolate them from society. Later in his research his work is discredited and Lombroso admitted that other factors than biology should be involved in criminal behavior. From this date biological explanations has not moved far. There is no...
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