What individual factors have been found to be related to criminal behavior and how are these factors thought to be related to engaging in crime?
Specific biological factors have been identified which influence an individual’s propensity to engage in criminal behavior. Fetal development can be altered by the mother’s ingestion of harmful substances such as nicotine, alcohol, and narcotic drugs during pregnancy (Wright et al., 2008), and can result in organ damage, neural cellular damage, attention deficit, and hyperactivity (Karr-Morse & Wiley, 1997) (Day et al., 2002). These factors have been linked to future aggressive behavioral issues (Sood et al., 2001). Brain damage and minor physical abnormalities that occur during pregnancy or birth may increase a child’s inability to socialize normally and may lead to antisocial behaviors later in life (Piquero & Tibbetts, 1999) (Raine, 2002).Abnormalities in activity in specific regions of the brain have been positively correlated to antisocial behavior, even actions as extreme as murder. Lower prefrontal lobe activity was specific to murderers, while lower than normal parietal and temporal lobe activity was expressed in PET scans of schizophrenics (Raine, 1993). The neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine have both been associated with antisocial behavioral development. Low serotonin levels may lead to depression and thoughts of suicide, schizophrenia, alcohol dependence, and other abnormal behaviors (Volavka, 1999). Excessive dopamine has been connected to increased aggression and schizophrenia, while insufficient amounts of dopamine may lead to attention-deficit/ hyperactivity disorder (Blazer, 2009). The male hormone testosterone has profound effects on many aspects of an individual’s biology. Testosterone makes males more sensation-seeking, risk-taking, less sensitive to pain, and lowers an individual’s level of empathy. All of these traits are indicative of an...
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