Biological Influences on Criminal Behavior
Gail S. Anderson
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
In reviewing introductory texts available to criminologists, one is left with the impression that biological factors are irrelevant to the formulation of criminal behavior. Where biology is mentioned at all, it receives infinitesimal coverage. This dearth of attention could at one time be blamed on shoddy research and the legitimate fear that evidence gathered along this path would be used to support eugenics extremists. However, in the past 20 years, tremendously valuable work has been accomplished that legitimately correlates biological factors such as genetics, biochemistry, diet, and brain disease to criminal behavior.
Biological Influences on Criminal Behavior fundamentally questions the way most criminologists attempt to explain, let alone ameliorate the problem of human criminal behavior. Written by Gail Anderson, a highly respected expert in forensics, who also brings a much-needed biological background to the task, this resource champions contemporary biological theory by introducing criminologists to areas of research they might not otherwise encounter.
Dr. Anderson discusses basic biological concepts such as natural selection and evolution in relation to behavior, and considers genetic factors including patterns of inheritance, sex-linked traits, and propensities toward aggression. She explores studies on hormonal effects, as well as brain chemistry, and delves deeply into organic brain dysfunction. She also looks at investigations into fetal conditions and birth-related difficulties, as well as research on nutrition and food allergies. While it is steeped in scientific research, the material is presented in a way that does not require a scientific background.
The author does not suggest that biology plays the major role in criminal behavior; however, her carefully researched work does prove that we can gain a far deeper and more useful understanding when we objectively assess all of the factors involved.
A professor of forensic entomology in the School of Criminology at Simon Fraser University, Gail S. Anderson has a Ph.D. in medical and veterinary entomology. She serves as a forensics consultant to the RCMP and city police across Canada. Among her many accolades, she was listed in TIME magazine as one of top five innovators worldwide in criminal justice and recently received the Derome Award from the Canadian Society of Forensic Sciences.
on the new diet. The researcher divides a group of chickens into two groups. One group, the 43315_C004.fm Page 83 Monday, September 4, 2006 7:45 AM Introduction to Genetic Predispositions for Behavior 83 experimental group, is fed the new diet and the other group, the control group, is fed the old diet. The results show that the chickens fed the new, experimental diet grew to be twice as large as the controls. Does this mean conclusively that the diet increased their weight? The answer is
no matter what the media might suggest. Thus, violent crime is rarely represented in high enough numbers in the studies for researchers to come to any conclusions. It must also be noted that women are rarely represented in these studies because fewer women than men commit crimes, and violent crime rates in women are very low, making it difficult to reach any universal conclusions. Different Countries Many of the studies come from European countries such as Denmark and Sweden, where the population
the Great Depression, major industrialization, and a world war. So, it is possible that the influence of genetic factors might be affected by these social upheavals. It is also possible that changes in level or type of crime during these years might influence the relations observed. The researchers were cognizant of this and so, in order to check this possibility, they repeated all the analyses for every 5-year period. The results were virtually identical for all of the periods and virtually
exhibited early-onset antisocial behavior, those who 43315_C005.fm Page 114 Monday, September 4, 2006 7:46 AM 114 Biological Influences on Criminal Behavior exhibited late-onset antisocial behavior, and those who did not exhibit antisocial behavior at all. Antisocial behavior was assessed by teachers, parents, and the children themselves, as well as from documented contact with police. Concordance rates for early-onset antisocial behavior in MZ twins was found to be 55% as compared with 29%
and Venanza, G. (1984). Behaviour troubles in nursery school children and their possible relationship to pregnancy or delivery complications. Acta Psychatrica Belgica, 84, 173–179. Denno, D.J. (1989). Biology, Crime and Violence: New Evidence. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 43315_C007.fm Page 174 Monday, September 4, 2006 7:46 AM 174 Biological Influences on Criminal Behavior Fast, D.K., Conry, J., and Loock, C.A. (1999). Identifying fetal alcohol syndrome among youth in the criminal