Is Criminal Behaviour Inherited or Learned?

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Criminologists and sociologist have long been in debate for century's to explain criminal behaviour. The two main paradigms of thought are between 'nature' and 'nurture'. Nature is in reference to a learnt behaviour where a multitude of characteristics, in society influence whether a person becomes deviant such as poverty, physical abuse or neglect. Nurture defines biological features which could inevitability lead to a individuals deviant or criminal behaviour, because criminality is believed by biological positivist to be inherited from a persons parents. However, I believe that criminal behaviour is a mixture of characteristics that lead to deviant acts such as psychological illness & Environmental factors. Therefore, this essay will aim to analyse both biological positivist and psychological positivist perspectives in hope of showing to what extent they play a role in criminal behaviour. Firstly, the essay will look at Cesare Lombroso's research on physical features and how these ideas have moved on to then develop scientific ideas such as genetics to explain criminal behaviour. Secondly, the essay will focus on external factors which may be able to explain criminal behaviour such as the social influences, life chances and Material deprivation.

Ceasare Lombroso is one of the first scholars that developed ideas to explain the reasons why some people behaved more deviant than others or committed crimes. Lombroso conducted research on several prisoners measuring facial features and skull size. He later published a book called “the criminal man in 1876” (Dwyer, 2001 p.15). Lombroso believed that there was two different types of human beings, those who had evolved properly and another which did not. They were more primitive an...

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... 86). Hence why I believe that criminal behaviour is influenced by mixture of a persons social background, life chances and pathology

Works Cited

Dwyer, D. (2001). Angels on Criminal Psychology. Cheltenham: Nelson Thornes

Newburn, T. (2013). Crminology. 2nd ed. Abingdon: Routledge.

Reviews, C.T and Siegel, L.J. (2012). Criminology. Belmont: WadsworthPublishing Co
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Sacco, V.F and Kennedy, L.W (2011). The Criminal Event: An Introduction to Criminology in Canada. Toronto Cengage Learning.

Morgan, R., Maguire, M. And Reiner, R. (2012). The Oxford Handbook of Criminology. 5th ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Hollin, C. (2013). Psychology and Crime: An Introduction to Criminological Psychology. London: Routledge

Hallswort, S. And Young, T. (2004) Getting Real About Gang. Criminal Justice Matters [online]. 55. (1), pp 12-13 [Accessed 10 December 2013]

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