The Nurture of Criminal Behavior

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Llissel Milton
Criminal Behavior Criminal behavior is an intentional behavior that violates a criminal code, intentional in that it did not occur accidentally or without justification or excuse. Some people believe that criminals are born, others that they are raised to become criminals. There are three theories about how criminals become criminals: the biological theory, the psychological theory and the social theory of crime. The biological theory of crime suggests that it is very likely that biological factors play a significant role in criminality due to the fact that criminal behavior tends to run in families. Adoption studies provide psychologists with the information required in order for them to discover whether criminal behavior patterns are the result of the child’s genes or their surrounding environment. For example, if a child’s behavior resembles that of their adoptive parents then this could suggest that criminality is a product of the environment. In 1987 there was a study in criminal convictions over 14,000 people who had been adopted and found greater evidence to suggest that biology had more influence over their behavior. The psychological theory of crime suggests that negative expectations cause certain individuals to behave towards others in a criminal way because their stereotypes alter their social interactions (self-fulfilling prophecy). The social theory of crime suggests that learning occurs when an individual (the learner) observes and copies another person (the model). Motivation to reproduce what the learner has observed from the model must be internal or external. Internal motivation may come from identification with the model, or external motivation can be obtained from direct or vicarious reinforcement. Children with criminal parents or who have other surrounding role models are very likely to be internally or externally motivated to copy behavior, i.e. carry out...
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