Conduct an Internet search Case Study

Instructions No directly quoted material may be used in this project paper. Resources should be summarized or paraphrased with appropriate in-text and Resource page citations. In this assignment, you will apply the theories you have studied to a
particular crime. Conduct an Internet search and find an article about a
crime in which you are interested. Crime stories are in the news every
day, so this should be easy to accomplish.Then, analyze three theories from chapters 22-41 in
terms of how useful they are in explaining the crime that you selected.
You may also choose to use other theories based on your own cited
research.For instance, if you chose a violent crime, such as rape, you
would analyze how useful each of three theories (one from each category)
is in explaining why the offender in the case you chose committed the
crime.Your paper should have the following sections:Introduction (Introduce the topic and mission of the paper to your reader.)The Crime (Describe the characteristics of the criminal
incident you found, then describe what we know about this type of crime
more generally. . . prevalence, trends, costs, etc.)Theory I (Describe the main features of the chosen theory, then
discuss how useful a specific theory from this category is in
explaining the crime.)Theory II (Describe the main features of the chosen theory,
then discuss how useful a specific theory from this category is in
explaining the crime.)Theory III (Describe the main features of the chosen theory,
then discuss how useful a specific theory from this category is in
explaining the crime.)Conclusion (Explain, in your view, which of the three theories is most useful in
explaining the criminal incident you chose. Then, discuss the
implications of this theory for criminal justice policy in general. What
should the criminal justice system do to try to address the kind of crime that you chose in light of the explanation for the crime that you found to be most useful?)The sources you use for this assignment should include the article on the crime you chose, the textbook, and two
peer-reviewed journal articles, either from the article you researched
in Project One (if applicable) or other articles you identify to connect
theory to crime. Significant amounts of information from
peer-reviewed journal articles and your textbook should be incorporated
into your paper.In addition to presenting information from your sources, do
some significant critical thinking in applying the theoretical material
we have covered to the real case that you select.Format Requirements· Paper should be a minimum of 1,000 words or about four pages· Double space· 12 pt. font· 1” margins· Use APA citations for all sources· Include APA reference page (not included in word count) Note: Use the automatic word count feature in your word processor to make sure that you meet the minimum 1,000-word requirement.Additionally -· Create a cover page for your assignment (not included in word count)· Include your name· Course title and number· Project title· Topic selected· Date of submission

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21st Century Criminology: A Reference
Biological Theory
Contributors: Angela D. Crews
Edited by: J. Mitchell Miller
Book Title: 21st Century Criminology: A Reference Handbook
Chapter Title: “Biological Theory”
Pub. Date: 2009
Access Date: November 28, 2017
Publishing Company: SAGE Publications, Inc.
City: Thousand Oaks
Print ISBN: 9781412960199
Online ISBN: 9781412971997
Print pages: 184-200
©2009 SAGE Publications, Inc.. All Rights Reserved.
This PDF has been generated from SAGE Knowledge. Please note that the pagination of
the online version will vary from the pagination of the print book.
Copyright © 2009 by SAGE Publications, Inc.
SAGE Reference
Biological Theory
Biological theories within the field of criminology attempt to explain behaviors contrary to
societal expectations through examination of individual characteristics. These theories are
categorized within a paradigm called positivism (also known as determinism), which asserts
that behaviors, including law-violating behaviors, are determined by factors largely beyond
individual control. Positivist theories contrast with classical theories, which argue that people
generally choose their behaviors in rational processes of logical decision making, and with
critical theories, which critique lawmaking, social stratification, and the unequal distribution of
power and wealth.
Positivist theories are further classified on the basis of the types of external influences they
identify as potentially determinative of individual behavior. For example, psychological and
psychiatric theories look at an individual’s mental development and functioning; sociological
theories evaluate the impact of social structure on individuals (e.g., social disorganization,
anomie, subcultural theories, opportunity, strain) and the impact of social function and
processes on individuals (e.g., differential association, social learning, social bonds, labeling).
Biological theories can be classified into three types: (1) those that attempt to differentiate
among individuals on the basis of certain innate (i.e., those with which you are born) outward
physical traits or characteristics; (2) those that attempt to trace the source of differences to
genetic or hereditary characteristics; and (3) those that attempt to distinguish among
individuals on the basis of structural, functional, or chemical differences in the brain or body.
This chapter is organized in rough chronological order and by historical figures associated
with an important development. It is difficult to provide an exact chronology, because several
important developments and movements happened simultaneously in various parts of the
world. For example, although biological theories are considered positivist, the concept of
positivism did not evolve until after the evolution of some early biological perspectives. In
addition, biological theories of behavior that involve some aspect of evolution, genetics, or
heredity are discussed in terms of those scientific developments, although physical trait
theories still continued to be popular.
The following sections discuss some of the more important and relevant considerations in
scientific developments that impacted biological theories of behavior. A brief history of
positivism also is provided, tracing the development and use of the biological theories from
early (largely discredited) beliefs, to the most current theories on the relationship of biology to
behavior. This section also provides a conclusion that discusses the role of biological theories
in the future of criminological thought.
Classical and Positivist Views of Behavior
Biological theories are a subtype of positivist theory. Positivism evolved as instrumental in
explaining lawviolating behaviors during the latter part of the 19th century as a response to
the perceived harshness of classical school philosophies. Classical thought, which emerged
during the Age of Enlightenment (mid-1600s to late 1700s), asserted that man operated on
the basis of free will and rational thought, choosing which courses of action to take. According
to classical theorists, individuals would engage in behaviors that were pleasurable and avoid
behaviors that were painful. Punishment (of the right type and in the right amounts) would
deter an individual from committing an act if that punishment resulted in pain that outweighed
the pleasure. Classical theorists, for the most part, denounced torture as a type of
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SAGE Reference
punishment because it was more punishment than was necessary to prevent a future
occurrence of the act; they believed that punishment should be proportionate to the crime to
be effective as a deterrent.
Classical views were not very concerned about the causes of behavior. Behaviors were seen
as the result of choice rather than as the result of inherent or external factors largely
uncontrollable by the individual. The significant progression of scientific thought and method,
however, led to the application of science in the study of human and social behavior. The
central focus of these new ideas was that the aim of any social action toward individuals who
violated law should be curing them, not punishing them.
Positivist criminology is distinguished by three main elements: (1) the search for the causes of
crime, whether biological, psychological, or sociological; (2) the use of the scientific method to
test theories against observations of the world; and (3) the rejection of punishment as a
response to law-violating or deviant behavior, replaced with treatment based on the medical
(rehabilitation) model. Positivism rejects free will and replaces it with scientific determinism.
Finally, it rejects focus on criminal law and replaces it with a study of the individual.
The Scientific Method
The scientific method is important to positivism and to biological theories of crime because it
provides a systematic way to examine a particular problem or issue, rather than relying on
spiritual or mystical explanations or haphazard guesswork. The development of the modern
scientific method is credited primarily to Ibn al-Haytham (965–1039), an Iraqi-born scientist
who wrote The Book of Optics between 1011 and 1021. It consists of the following seven
1. Observation: Visual examination of a problem or issue, noticing characteristics and
2. Statement of the problem: A verbal description of the problem or issue, noting how it
impacts and relates to other events or factors. An explanation of why and how the issue
or problem is a problem.
3. Formulation of hypotheses: Development of potential explanations or solutions,
educated and informed statements about the expected nature of the problem and
relationships among the various components of the problem, specification of variables
involved in the problem so that the potential explanation can be tested.
4. Testing of the hypotheses using controlled experimentation: controlled manipulation of
the variables to determine whether the hypotheses are supported.
5. Analyses of experimental results; this usually involves examination of statistics.
6. Interpretation of data obtained from the testing and analyses and the formulation of a
conclusion: Taking into account all the factors, the researcher makes a conclusion
about the nature of the problem or issue.
7. Publication or dissemination of findings to inform interested populations and future
research: providing information to the scientific community about your findings to help
future researchers or to inform policy and practice.
Although some variation of the scientific method has been used since ancient times to
evaluate and solve many problems, its use to explain social problems, such as crime and
criminality, developed more recently. Early types of biological theories of crime were among
the first efforts. Given the use of the scientific method in the “hard” or “natural” sciences, early
researchers of the causes of crime attempted to explain criminal behaviors by applying the
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SAGE Reference
scientific method. The most obvious place to look for differences between criminals and other
individuals was on the outside, by studying physical traits.
Physical Trait Theories
The belief that one can determine a person’s character, moral disposition, or behavior by
observing his or her physical characteristics is ancient. Pythagoras, a philosopher,
mathematician, and scientist who lived during the period around 500 BCE, may have been
one of the first to advocate this practice, known as physiognomy.
The term physiognomy comes from the Greek words physis, meaning “nature,” and gnomon,
meaning “to judge or to interpret.” It refers to the evaluation of a person’s personality or
character (i.e., his or her nature) through an examination of that person’s outward
appearance. Early physiognomy concentrated on characteristics of the face through which to
judge the person’s nature. Aristotle, a Greek philosopher who lived from 384 to 322 BCE, was
a proponent of physiognomy, as were many other ancient Greeks. The practice flourished in
many areas of the world and was taught in universities throughout England until it was
banned by Henry VIII in 1531.
Giambattista della Porta (1535–1615)
The publication of On Physiognomy in 1586 by Italian scholar Giambattista della Porta once
again brought renewed focus to this belief and practice of the ancient Greeks. Della Porta,
often considered the first criminologist, examined patients during his medical practice and
concluded that appearance and character were related. He approached the study of this
relationship from a magico – spiritualistic metaphysical perspective instead of a scientific one,
classifying humans on the basis of their resemblance to animals. For example, men who look
like donkeys are similar to donkeys in their laziness and stupidity; men who resemble pigs
behave like pigs.
Johann Kaspar Lavater (1741–1801)
Della Porta’s ideas were extremely influential to Johann Kaspar Lavater, a Swiss pastor who
published his painstakingly detailed study of facial fragments in 1783. He concluded that one
could determine criminal behavior through an examination of a person’s eyes, ears, nose,
chin, and facial shape.
Phrenology, from the Greek words phren, meaning “mind,” and logos, meaning “knowledge,”
is based on the belief that human behavior originated in the brain. This was a major departure
from earlier beliefs that focused on the four humors as the source of emotions and behaviors:
(1) sanguine (blood), seated in the liver and associated with courage and love; (2) choleric
(yellow bile), seated in the gall bladder and associated with anger and bad temper; (3)
melancholic (black bile), seated in the spleen and associated with depression, sadness, and
irritability; and (4) phlegmatic (phlegm), seated in the brain and lungs and associated with
calmness and lack of excitability. Theoretically and practically relocating responsibility for
behavior from various organs to the brain represented a major step in the development of the
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Copyright © 2009 by SAGE Publications, Inc.
SAGE Reference
scientific study of behavior and in the development of biological explanations of crime and
Franz Joseph Gall (1758–1828)
Around 1800, Franz Joseph Gall, a German neuroanatomist and physiologist who pioneered
study of the human brain as the source of mental faculties, developed the practice of
cranioscopy, a technique by which to infer behaviors and characteristics from external
examination of the skull (cranium). According to Gall, a person’s strengths, weaknesses,
morals, proclivities, character, and personality could be determined by physical characteristics
of his or her skull.
Gall mapped out the location of 27 “brain organs” on the human skull. A bump or depression
in a particular area of the skull would indicate a strength or weakness in that particular area.
For example, several areas of Gall’s map of the skull were believed to correspond to that
person’s tendencies to engage in criminal or deviant acts. One area corresponded to the
tendency to commit murder; another area corresponded to the tendency to steal. Although
not widely accepted in Europe, the English elite (and others) used Gall’s ideas to justify the
oppression of individuals whose skulls had bumps or depressions in the wrong areas. The
practice also was widely accepted in America between 1820 and 1850. Although crude, and
somewhat ridiculous by today’s standards, Gall’s efforts had significant impact on subsequent
research that attempted to identify the brain as the origin of behavior. Although similar to
physiognomy in that it tried to make inferences about character and behavior from outward
characteristics, cranioscopy attempted to correlate those outward physical characteristics to
internal physical characteristics (i.e., brain shape), which was a significant advance.
Johann Spurzheim (1776–1832)
Spurzheim, a German physician and student of Gall’s, actually coined the term phrenology to
replace cranioscopy. Spurzheim also expanded the map of the brain organs, developed a
hierarchical system of the organs, and created a model “phrenology bust” that depicted the
location of the brain organs.
While the German scientists were focusing attention on the brain as an important determinant
of individual behavior, various other scholars were theorizing about the development of man
as a biological organism; about the nature of social and political organizations; and about the
place of man, as an individual, within those organizations. The synthesis of these ideas would
significantly advance the progress of research related to biological perspectives of behavior.
The Origins of Humanity and the Mechanisms of Inheritance
Since the beginning of time, humans have questioned their origins. Earliest explanations
focused on mystical/magical and spiritual forces, often centered on creationism, the theory
that life originated from a divine source. The power of the organized religions in shaping
man’s social, political, economic, and legal systems is testament to their immense influence.
For example, religious perspectives dominated philosophical thought until the Scientific
Revolution began in the mid-16th century, when advances in theory and practice provided
explanations alternative to those promulgated by the church. Galileo Galilei (1564–1642),
Johannes Kepler (1571–1630), René Descartes (1596–1650), and Isaac Newton (1643–1727)
all made significant contributions that brought scientific reasoning to the forefront of thought
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SAGE Reference
as a competitor to spiritual explanations. Although usurping the philosophies of the church
were not their main goals, their revolutionary ideas (that natural events and human behaviors
may be explained by the development and application of certain scientific principles) had just
that effect. Needless to say, secular science was not very popular with the church and
organized religion. However, these changes were vital in advancing understanding of human
and societal behavior.
Persistence of Human Traits and Characteristics
In addition to having been the potential source of physiognomy, ancient Greek philosophers
also were among the first to recognize and attempt to explain the persistence of traits and
characteristics from one generation to the next. Plato and Aristotle used the concept of
association to explain how current mental processes (especially memories) generate from
prior mental processes. These beliefs broadened to include all mental processes in the hands
of philosophers such as Hume, Mill, and Locke.
Given that memories and other, possibly undesirable, characteristics and traits could
potentially persist through generations, Plato advocated the control of reproduction by the
state (government). Infanticide was practiced as a form of population control in ancient Rome,
Athens, and Sparta. Many of the ancient societies also engaged in practices to weed out
weak, diseased, malformed, or otherwise unfit members, such as exposing young children to
the elements to see which ones had the strength, intelligence, and wit to survive.
Scientists began studying the nature of persistent traits in plants and animals prior to the
application of these ideals to humans. Once established, however, it took relatively little time
and relatively little effort to explain human patterns with these principles. As readers will note,
the mid-to late 18th century was characterized by rapid progress in the natural sciences,
which positively impacted biologically oriented research in the social sciences.
Carolus (Carl) Linnaeus (1707–1778)
Linnaeus, a Swedish botanist, zoologist, and physician, was among the first to document
traits, patterns, and characteristics among plants and animals, creating hierarchical
taxonomies (systems of classification). In Systema Naturae (System of Nature), published in
1735, Linnaeus grouped humans with other primates, becoming one of the first to recognize
similar characteristics across species, hinting at an evolutionary progression.
Pierre-Louis Moreau de Maupertuis (1698–1759)
In 1745, French philosopher and mathematician Maupertuis published Venus Physique
(Physical Venus), in which he proposed a theory of reproduction in which organic materials
contained mechanisms to naturally organize. He subsequently discussed his views on
heredity and examined the contributions of both sexes to reproduction, examining variations
through statistics. Whether Maupertuis can be credited with being among the first to attempt
to elucidate a theory of evolution is actively debated. He is generally credited with outlining
the basic principles of evolutionary thought, along with his contemporary, James Burnett (see
James Burnett, Lord Monboddo [1714–1799] section).
David Hartley (1705–1757) and the Associationist School
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Copyright © 2009 by SAGE Publications, Inc.
SAGE Reference
Hartley (borrowing somewhat from philosopher John Locke) published his most influential
work—Observations on Man, His Frame, His Duty, and His Expectations—in 1749. In it, he
attempted to explain memory and thought, in general, through the doctrine of association.
This was significant, because he attempted to link the processes of the body to the processes
of the brain. He explained that actions and thoughts that do not result immediately from an
external stimulus are influenced by the constant activity of the brain because of man’s past
experiences, mediated by the current circumstances, causing man to act in one way or
another. This brain activities that Hartley called sensations are often associated together and
become associated with other ideas and sensations, forming new ideas. Hartley’s work was
important in that it brought scientific focus to the process of thought, the origin of emotions,
and the impact of feelings on the creation of voluntary action. This is a positivist philosophy in
that action is not viewed as being the direct result of strict free will.
George-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon (1707–1788)
From 1749 to 1778, Leclerc published his most famous and influential work in 36 volumes,
with an additional 8 volumes published postmortem. It was a study of natural history, from the
general to the specific. In this work, he proposed the idea that species, including humans,
ch …
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