Deviance: Nature vs. Nurture
Every society has developed their own rules and principles, and every society contains those who break away from
these norms and expectations. These people are called deviants. All societies throughout history have had these deviants
who refuse to follow the rules set up by the community in which they live. Deviance is necessary, to some degree, for
societies to advance. Without deviance, human culture would stagnate. The causes of deviance, like many other topics, is
up for debate. Some say people are genetically determined to either be deviant or not, some say deviance is caused by the
environment in which they grow up: nature, or nurture.
Throughout the late 19th and early 20th centuries, many families were studied in order to possibly find a connection
between heredity and criminality or “feeble-mindedness” (feeble-mindedness was a term used in this time period that could
mean a number of things: various forms of mental retardation, learning disabilities, and mental illness). The two most well-
known studies were of the Jukes and the Kallikak families.
The Jukes were first studied in 1874 when a sociologist named Richard L. Dugdale studied the records of 13 prisons in
New York. After researching a number of convicts' genealogies, he found that there was a man, whom he gave the name
Max, born somewhere between 1720 and 1740 who was the ancestor of 76 convicted criminals, 18 brothel owners, 120
prostitutes, over 200 people on welfare, and 2 cases of feeble-mindedness. In 1912, another study was published on the
Jukes, this time by a man named Arthur H. Estabrook, who claimed Dugdale's study hadn't been thorough enough.
Estabrook added more than 2,000 additional people into the group of subjects included under the pseudonym “Jukes,”
raising the total to 2,820.
The Kallikak family was first studied in the same year as the last study on the Jukes was published. Henry H. Goddard
was an American psychologist who ran the New Jersey Home for the Education and Care of Feebleminded Children (now
known as Vineland Training School). In 1912, he began to study the genealogy of a woman in his facility, who he gave the
pseudonym “Deborah Kallikak.” Goddard found that the woman's great-great-great grandfather, Martin Kallikak, a
Revolutionary War hero, at one point had an illegitimate child with a feeble-minded barmaid. This child, a son, had
children of his own, who had their own children, and continued on through the generations. These descendants all wound
up poor, insane, criminal, or mentally retarded. However, after further research into Martin Kallikak's family tree, Goddard
found that his other descendants, those not related to the feeble-minded barmaid, were completely different. These children
grew up to be intelligent, prosperous, upright citizens; they went into careers like doctors, lawyers, and ministers.
According to Dugdale, Estabrook, and Goddard, there is a very clear link between genetics and the behavior in which a
person participates within their lifetime.
These studies, however, are 100 years old. Some people would argue that unless more modern research is devoted to
genetic-based deviance, that we cannot consider these studies valid today. There has been a significant amount of study
given to genetically caused deviance, in particular to the MAOA gene. In a few different studies the low-expression variant
of this gene, known as MAOA-L, has been linked to an increased risk of violence and aggressive behavior. The MAOA
gene controls the production of monoamine oxidase A, an enzyme that lowers the body's use of neurotransmitters like
dopamine and serotonin. When the MAOA-L gene is present in a person, their body will use more of these
neurotransmitters than normal, this can lead to sleep disorders, excessively impulsive or violent behaviors, and...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document