Biology and Criminal Behavior
Research has consistently shown that biological genealogy plays important factors in the behavior of humans, which can influence, create, or condition social environments in society. The combination of biological genes and environments can predict future behaviors. Without intervention, these behaviors carry over to adulthood that can create criminal behaviors in adulthood as well as other emotional and social problems.
Evidence shows that traits and characteristics remain relatively stable over time and signs of serious criminology emerge early, are multifaceted, and show remarkable resistance to change (Beaver, 2009). Traits and characteristics, such as IQ, impulsivity, and risk seeking, become apparent in young ages and define an individual’s behavior throughout their lifetime. Regardless of whether an individual engages in criminal acts, the traits and characteristics of the individuals will define future behavior. For example, children that show signs of aggression will show aggression throughout life if intervention measures are not taken to teach them how to control the aggressive behavior. The biological factors produce tendencies for aggression. If the environment is abusive, this will cause the person to be abusive as well because of the genes and the environmental combination.
Still, other research evidence shows a wide range of behavior problems, personality disorders, and mood disorders are influenced by genes and deficiencies in IQ and its corollaries are risk factors in the etiology of delinquency (Wright, 2008). Behavior problems and personality and mood disorders are influenced by genes and, when combined with environmental factors, can bring about delinquent behaviors. The same goes for children who have special needs, such as ADHD or other special learning needs. Genetic makeup can cause the disorders, but when placed in negative environments, such as violence, neglect, drugs, alcohol, etc., the combination of the genes and the environment leads the child to delinquency. If the child remains in the environment with no intervention measures taken, it can lead to criminal activity in adulthood.
Genetic makeup also shapes the talents and interests of individuals (Beaver, Chapter 3: Gene-Environment Interplay Explained, 2009). Genes help to determine what talents and interests an individual develops. At the same time, individuals tend to befriend others with the same talents and interests as a way to relate. Just the same as a football player will befriend other football players, a delinquent will befriend other delinquents as a way to relate to others. All research shows that genetic effects are more powerful in high-risk environments as opposed to low-risk environments (Beaver, Chapter 3: Gene-Environment Interplay Explained, 2009). The effects of the delinquents will be more powerful in scope than the example of football players. High-risk environments, such as abuse and violence, drugs and alcohol, and poverty can enhance the effects of the genetic makeup.
Biological factors combined with environmental factors play huge roles in the way individuals behave. Where the genes shape traits and characteristics, the environmental factors enhance those traits and characteristics. At the same time, environmental factors affect behavior as well. The individual genetic makeup will enhance the environmental factors where behavior is concerned. Where traits and characteristics remain relatively consistent over time, intervention measures can reshape the behavior. Taking a child out of a negative environment helps the child to learn techniques of controlling the behavior that stems from the traits and characteristics. but, without intervention, the child may grow up as a delinquent and engage in criminal activity as an adult.
Beaver, K. (2009). Chapter 2: The Stability of Criminal and Anologous Behaviors. In K. Beaver, Biosocial criminology: A primer (pp. 16-34). Iowa: Kendall Hunt Publishing Co.
Beaver, K. (2009). Chapter 3: Gene-Environment Interplay Explained. In K. Beaver, Biosocial criminology: A primer (pp. 91-108). Iowa: Kendall Hunt Publishing Co.
Wright, J.T. (2008). Chapter 4: Genetics and Crime. In J.T. Wright, Criminals in the making: Criminality across the life course (pp. 55-70). Los Angelos: Sage.
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