• Question: To what extent, do you consider there to be biological factors which enhance the likelihood of criminal activities within members of society?

    Asked by tiggyhg to Alexandra, Alex, Ashley, Millie, Claire, Claudia, Damian, Daniel, Dave, Donna, Eóghan, Hannah, Helen, Jason, Jo, Joaquin, joeyshepherd, Laura, Lauren, Laurent, Leo, Liza, Marion, Nathan, Beccy on 22 Jun 2018.
    • Photo: Donna MacCallum

      Donna MacCallum answered on 22 Jun 2018:


      I do wonder sometimes… but for most crimes, mainly I think it is to do with how the person is brought up.
      However, for some of the psychopaths, I think that biology does play a part – have no evidence to base this on yet though!

    • Photo: Joanne Sharpe

      Joanne Sharpe answered on 22 Jun 2018:


      I think that with most behavioural traits, there is a contribution of both the environment we live in and our DNA. There will be certain traits that you are born with that make you more likely to turn to criminal activites, such as being a more impulsive person, or more susceptible to addiciton. But it is very hard to pinpoint any genetic basis for it, and I think the environment in which you are broiught up in and the people you interact with has a greater effect.

    • Photo: Laura Hemming

      Laura Hemming answered on 24 Jun 2018:


      The paper below which was published in 1992 combined the results of all the studies which had looked at the relationship between genetics and crime. This paper found a very small relationship between genetics and crime. However, this study is now quite old – and the results that were included may not be truly down to genes. For instance, lots of these studies assume that if two twins (e.g. who share the same genes) both commit a crime, then this must be down to genetics. However, correlation does not imply causation – it could be that the two twins both committed crimes because of their similar upbringing. Nowadays, there is much more of a focus on how somebody is brought up than on biological risk factors for crime.

      https://heinonline.org/HOL/Page?collection=journals&handle=hein.journals/crim30&id=618

    • Photo: Ashley Akbari

      Ashley Akbari answered on 24 Jun 2018:


      Not on an expert on this one, but some good answers already

    • Photo: Lauren Burns

      Lauren Burns answered on 27 Jun 2018:


      A really excellent question! I agree with the points made, there isn’t a ‘criminal’ gene, but some factors such as impulsivity and addiction are higher in the criminal population. However, people are so complicated, there are so many potential influences and factors that may lead to an outcome. Just because someone is impulsive, doesn’t mean they will be a criminal. Or, people with criminal parents won’t necessarily become criminals, but dependant on what other factors are going on, I think the social side of things are highly influential. Although, even saying that, sometimes it is just down to unfortunate life events. Also, some crimes – particularly white collar crimes – stem from other motivations, such as greed or perhaps a narcissistic trait (resulting in feeling they are above the law/won’t get caught). As I, and my fellow colleagues have said, it is very complicated and highly dependant on any number of factors.

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