Posted: March 18th, 2023
Criminal behavior has been the subject of interest for psychologists for a very long time. In a manner, it is quite intriguing question that what are the reasons and causes that lead a person to display criminal behavior. Many theories have been presented over the decades to answer this question. Most theories tend to focus on the factors that make a person indulge in committing crimes. While many factors are argued to be the main reasons for such criminal behavior, none can be proved with surety as behavior depends upon the way the brain and the psychology of a person works. Only the understanding of the human mind can assist psychologists greatly to investigate the structure of the mind and the way it operates (Barkow, Cosmides, & Tooby, 1992). Therefore, several biological theories have been presented by psychologists who attempt to explain the criminal behavior of a person’s mind.
One theory that suggests the links between biology and the criminal behavior is that the human brain adapts the biological traits of the human body into processes and mechanism of psychology. This theory explains that psychology is quite closely linked to the human physiology and the neuroscience functions of the brain. According to the psychologists who support this biological theory, the development of the behavioral conduct of a person depends upon the biological effects on the brain. Due to various biological factors in the human body such as increase in blood flow, rise in testosterone levels, etc. They explain that the brain adapts these physical signals into determining the behavior the person has to present by converting these signals into phenomena such as emotions, attitudes, core concepts of self value and motives (Bartol & Bartol, 2007). The behavior is discussed as a part of the evolutionary psychology of a person as suggested by the Darwinian selection. This selection theory says that the selection created the existing biological adaptations in living species to act as a solution for the problems that have recurred among the many generations of a species’ ancestors (Dawkins, 1986). Therefore, the outlay of this theory suggests that the violent behavior in humans relates to the biological operations of the human physiology. For example, the feeling of pain when a person punched by another person urges the brain to generate the emotion of anger and to satisfy that emotion the first person engages into violent actions. Therefore, upon evaluation, this theory provides strong evidence that associate with the impact of biology on the criminal behavior.
A different theory suggests that the human mind is impacted by the social motives and society at large; to determine the behavior it will display through its host. Studies relating to social behavior have presented the ideas that the psychological functions such as the emotions, motives and attitudes of a person are molded by the evolutionary natural selection to act in a nepotistic manner i.e. To perform actions that uphold the perseverance and growth of the genetic elements such as reproduction and survival of the acting person (Raine, 2002). In simple words, the need to persist, attain supremacy and survive in an existent social setting controls the functions of the mind to present a behavior that can be deemed violent in nature. As explained by Gelles and Strauss in their works, “With the exception of the police and the military, the family is perhaps the most violent social group, and the home the most violent social setting, in our society. A person is more likely to be hit or killed in his or her home by another family member than anywhere else or by anyone else.” (Gelles & Straus, 1985, p. 88). Therefore it is evident from this theory that the social connections and settings can impact upon a person’s conduct and emotions and could force them to act violently, proving this theory to be true in explaining the biological connection with criminal behavior.
Another biological theory mentions that the gender differences, especially in cases of men, generate strings of violent reactions to the opposite gender. This theory argues that the natural superiority instincts in men push their brain functions to act aggressively and violently to any action of the female gender that attempts to point a finger against their manhood. Although this theory puts its focus on the biological traits of a gender, it does not provide definitive support to the fact that superiority causes men to display violence with women. This theory ignores other facts such as sexual motives and other social dilemmas and emotions in determining the criminal behavior of a person.
One more such theory suggests that the biology of a person plays an immense role in determining his criminal behavior. It explains that having a history of ancestors that were involved in criminal acts throughout their lifetimes has an impact on a person biologically as the person is also assumed to have been born with those criminal tendencies. Although hereditary and genetic biology can act to be supporting this suggestion, it is important to note that every human mind is different and it is incorrect to blame a person of possible criminal behavior in the future depending upon the fact that the person had criminals as ancestors.
Evaluation of the theories stated in this paper display that not every biological theory presented by psychologists explain the relation of biological functions with criminal behavior. Therefore, biological approaches as a body of research towards the study of criminal behavior and can only be related to the ways an impact on the human body affects the brain, and thus, the biological approach can only be taken as effective if theories provide supportive evidence and are largely acceptable by the field of psychology.
Barkow, J., Cosmides, L., & Tooby, J. (1992). The Adapted Mind. New York: Oxford University Press.
Bartol, C.R., & Bartol, a.M. (2007). Criminal Behavior: A Psychosocial Approach (8th Edition). Prentice Hall.
Dawkins, R. (1986). The Blind Watchmaker. Harlow, UK: Longman.
Gelles, R.J., & Straus, M.A. (1985). In Crime and the Family. Springfield, U.S.: Thomas.
Raine, a. (2002). Biosocial studies of antisocial and violent behavior in children and adults: A review. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology 30(4), 311-326.
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