Answer the following essay questions:
1. Describe the origins of criminal behavior as seen through the various biological factors that are thought to contribute to, influence, or cause criminality in certain individuals (and not in others). In order to respond to this question, you may want to examine twin and adoption studies, psychophysiological factors, environmental factors, and physical factors such as physique, minor physical anomalies (MPAs), and attractiveness.
Sociologists James Henslin wrote a book entitled, “Sociology: A Down-to-Earth Approach.” According to Henslin (1999), crime is the violation of norms that have been written into law. People who engage in criminal behavior do it for many reasons.
Criminal behavior is deviant behavior. This is behavior that is against the norm. The reasons for this deviance taking place in certain individuals are explained by experts in the field of psychology, sociology, and biology.
As noted by Henslin, psychologists and socio-biologists explain deviant/criminal behavior by looking for answers within individuals. “They assume that something in the makeup of people leads them to become deviant, “ Henslin noted. “By contrast, sociologists look for answers in factors outside the individual. They assume that something in the environment influences people to become deviant.”
From a biological perspective, there seems to be individuals that appear to be programmed for deviant/criminal behavior. As noted by Henslin, biological explanations focus on genetic predispositions to such deviance as juvenile delinquency and crime.
From a biological perspective, there are three theories that attempt to explain deviant/criminal behavior. The first theory involves intelligence. It is believed that low intelligence leads to crime. The second theory is the “XYY” theory. This involves males having an extra Y chromosome, which leads them to commit crime. The third theory involves body type. “People with ‘squarish, muscular’ bodies are more likely to commit street crime, acts such as mugging, rape, and burglary,” Henslin noted.
From a psychological perspective, abnormalities within the individual’s personality are believed to be the cause of the deviant/criminal behavior. According to Henslin, “Psychologist supposed that deviating individuals have deviating personalities, that various unconscious devices drive people to deviance.”
From a sociological perspective, sociologists look for factors in the external environment that contribute to deviant/criminal behavior. It is believed that there are outside influences that cause be people to commit crimes. That is why sociologists examine, “external influences such as socialization, subcultural membership, and social class,” Henslin noted.
Clearly, criminal/deviant behavior has its origin from many perspectives. They are biological, sociological, and psychological. In fact, the combination of all of these factors seem to contribute to the origin of criminal/deviant behavior.
Henslin, J. (1999). Sociology: A Down-to-Earth Approach (4th edition). Needham Heights, MA: Allyn and Bacon.
2. Human aggression and violence figures prominently in criminogenic behavior and understanding the causes and precipitating factors in aggression will prove invaluable to the forensic behavioral analyst. Begin your response by defining aggression and the distinction between hostile and instrumental aggression; then describe the theoretical perspectives on aggression, as well as the social learning factors in aggression and violence. Finally, describe the two cognitive models of aggression.
Psychologists Kimberly M. Christopherson, Stephen F. Davis, and Joseph J. Palladino wrote a book entitled, “Psychology.” In their book they defined aggression as any physical or psychological behavior that is performed with the intent of harming someone or something. Palladino et al (2013) noted, “This definition indicates that aggressive behavior is intentional; there is deliberate intent to do harm.”
There are two types of aggression, hostile and instrumental. Hostile aggression takes place when someone is upset. This takes place “when a person is angry or annoyed with someone else; the goal is to harm the other person,” noted Palladino et al. “Most murders tend to be impulsive, emotional acts of hostile aggression.
Instrumental aggression has a goal to meet. “For example, a robber may attack a victim to steal something, not because the robber is angry with the victim but because the aggressive behavior is instrumental in achieving the intended goal,” noted Christopherson et al.
There are theoretical perspectives on aggression. According to Christopherson et al, ethologists believe that some forms of aggression are inherited. They go on to say “Although ethologists and biological psychologists argue that aggression is part of human nature, other psychologists stress the importance of environmental factors in producing aggressive behavior.”
The hypothesis that exist to explain this phenomenon is the frustration-aggression hypothesis. This hypothesis says that when individuals are frustrated, that individual is likely to act aggressively. According to Palladino et al, frustration is defined as being blocked from attaining a goal.
Palladino et al also noted that social learning is involved in aggressive behavior. They noted that social learning theory is a theory that says that learning occurs through watching and imitating the behavior of others. The behavior is influenced by reinforcement mechanisms (seeing others being rewarded for behaving aggressively). This all supports the role of the environmental impact on the personality of individuals.
According to a study conducted by psychologists C. A. Anderson and B. J. Bushman, there are two cognitive models of aggression. They are script and attribution. Anderson & Bushman (2002) noted the following about scripts, “The interpretational and behavioral scripts a person brings to social situations influence that person's preparedness for aggression.”
Like in a play or a movie, a script tells the actors what to say and do. With aggression, individuals have a memorized script that they received through their experiences. When the moment arrives, they play the part, be aggressive or not be aggressive.
Attributes involve the explanations people give about why others behave the way they do. It is all about perception. An individual may attribute a behavior, especially behavior that is not clear, as hostile because their mind tells them so. They collect the information that makes a determination to be aggressive based on the script or attributes of the situation.