A person might find him- or herself interested in discovering what it is that makes a criminal take the path that he or she does. Is it a personal choice? Coincidence? Circumstance? What exactly is it that starts an individual down a pathway that leads to a criminal life or leads them down a path towards "normal" life within the law? Criminology, or the study of the scientific factors behind criminal behavior, points to the answer of that. As is typical with most sciences, however, there is no one, conclusive answer to all or any of these questions. The field of criminology is loaded with a variety of theories, each with a probability of being true, but none is believed to be the standalone explanation of the total science of the study of criminal behavior.
When delving into the various theories under the umbrella of criminology, one must research and gain knowledge about each idea to understand how it stands alone and among all of the theories. These should be compared against each other to determine what similarities they may have, which overlap and strengthen the foundations of understanding criminal behavior. Then they shall be examined for contrasting points, which distinguish and possibly prove weaknesses within the theories. Doing so can help criminologists determine the accuracy and credibility of the theories and help achieve a deeper knowledge of criminals and antisocial behaviors.
There are a number of existing criminological theories and angles, which criminologists develop and study to answer many of the questions raised about the origin of crime. Two major theories have been chosen for discussion in-depth within this paper: the Trait Theory and the Developmental (or life-course) Theory. First, each theory, as well as parts of some of its sub-theories, will be defined, explained in layperson's terms, and examined for whether it supports or refutes certain specific criminal activities. Then, the two theories will be further examined for points of meshing similarities, followed by points of discord. Finally, a conclusion will be drawn in summation of the information researched, shared, and compared/contrasted.
The idea that an individual is most likely predisposed to certain types of behavior, including criminality and antisocial behavior, due to certain biological and psychological traits is the criminological Trait Theory (Siegel, 2010). This theory generally means that people who live a criminal lifestyle are physically, chemically or biologically different from the rest of the population, or that they lack the self- and impulse- controlling behaviors that others with the same predispositions have mastered. There are a variety of types of traits and explanations for each. These differences can be inherited or environmental.
Inherited traits, such as genetic predispositions to certain behaviors or mental illnesses, lead trait theorists to believe that criminal and antisocial...