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Is it the responsibility of an individual's genetic makeup that makes them a criminal or is it the environment in which they are raised that determines their outcome?
Research has been conducted regarding this debate which has resulted in a conclusion that both genes and environment do play a role in the criminality of an individual. This evidence has been generated from a number of twin, family, and adoption studies as well as laboratory experiments.
Furthermore, the research has stated that it is more often an interaction between genes and the environment that predicts criminal behavior. Having a genetic predisposition for criminal behavior does not determine the actions of an individual, but if they are exposed to the right environment, then their chances are greater for engaging in criminal or anti-social behavior.
Therefore, this paper will examine the different functions that genetics and the environment play in the criminal behavior of individuals. There is a vast amount of evidence that shows our criminal justice system is the new home for individuals with psychological problems.
Although this may seem like a solution to some, it is creating a dilemma for our society. Once we label these individuals as criminals it creates a stigma for those who may suffer from psychological problems. Certain psychological problems have been shown to be heritable and if given the right circumstances, individuals with those genes could find themselves engaging in criminal activity.
Therefore, should society look towards limiting the reproductive capabilities of individuals who suffer from certain psychological problems to better society?
That same question was asked back in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries when the role of genetics in crime was widely accepted Joseph, Prominent researchers believed that genes were fully responsible for criminal activity and that criminals could be identified by their physiological features.
This period was therefore marked with inhumane treatment and the belief that genes were the sole reason behind criminal behavior. Not long after the practices of controlled breeding, there was evidence to support the idea that the environment also played an important role in crime.
Early family studies were conducted that showed a predisposition for criminal behavior as a result of inherited characteristics, but that an individual's characteristics and personality could still be modified by the environment Joseph, Although these studies were void of high validity and reliability, it still raised the question of whether the environment can also influence individuals to act in a criminal manner.
The debate between genetics and environment continues today with much more reliable research and data. Consequently, this paper will examine the various roles in which both genes and environmental factors influence criminal behavior.
Definition and Measurement of Criminal Behavior To fully understand the nature of how genes and the environment influence criminal behavior, one must first know how criminal behavior is defined. Therefore determining what constitutes criminal behavior can envelope a wide variety of activities and for that reason, researchers tend to focus on the wider context of antisocial behavior.
Authors Morley and Hallwho have investigated the genetic influences on criminal behavior, point out three different ways to define antisocial behavior. First is equating it with criminality and delinquency, which both involve engaging in criminal acts.
Information can be collected using court and criminal records, as well as self report surveys to analyze the influences that were present. Secondly, they advise individuals to define antisocial behavior is through criteria used to diagnose certain personality disorders. More specifically, they mean those personality disorders, such as Antisocial Personality Disorder, which is associated with an increased risk in criminal activity.
A final measure suggested for defining antisocial behavior is by examining personality traits that may be influential in the criminal behavior of individuals. Further details of disorders and personality traits associated with criminal behavior will be discussed later in the paper.
With regards to determining the effects the environment plays in criminal behavior there are fewer resources available.
Observational studies and reports submitted by parents are two sources, but not everyone agrees on the validity of information collected from these sources. Twin, Adoption, and Family Studies There has been great debate between researchers regarding the outcomes of twin, adoption, and family studies.
On the other hand, some have concluded that there is not enough evidence from these twin, family, and adoption studies to profess that genetics do play a role in antisocial or criminal behavior Lowenstein, To understand why there are such conflicting opinions, one must first look at the available studies that have been conducted.
Twin studies are conducted on the basis of comparing monozygotic MZ or identical twins and their rates of criminal behavior with the rates of criminal behavior of dizygotic DZ or fraternal twins.
Ordinarily these studies are used to assess the roles of genetic and environmental influences. A study conducted looked at thirty two MZ twins reared apart, who had been adopted by a non-relative a short time after birth. The results showed that for both childhood and adult antisocial behavior, there was a high degree of heritability involved Joseph, Stalking is unwanted or repeated surveillance by an individual or group towards another person.
Stalking behaviors are interrelated to harassment and intimidation and may include following the victim in person or monitoring them. The term stalking is used with some differing definitions in psychiatry and psychology, as well as in some legal jurisdictions as a term for a criminal .
What Causes Criminal Behavior Essay - Criminologists studied criminal behavior for many years. In fact, criminologists have come up with many different answers and theories as to . Introduction In my essay on academic freedom in the USA, I argued that the legal concept of academic freedom in the USA was mostly an illusion.
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