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Exploring The Biological And Psychological Characteristics Of Criminals

2011 words - 8 pages

The purpose of this assignment is to examine the biological and psychological explanations of crime. It will primarily focus on Cesare Lombroso’s theory in that he believed that criminals could be determined and identified by their physical appearance and attributes. It will cover Bowlby’s theory of maternal deprivation and how childhood violence and trauma can affect a person’s behaviour and personality. It will further explain the strengths and weaknesses and how criminals are perceived in contemporary Britain today.
Cesare Lombroso was an Italian criminologist born in Venice, Italy in 1836. He went on to become a university professor who became renowned worldwide for his studies and theories. Lombroso worked in the field of Characterology, which meant he studied the difference between mental and physical characteristics. Lombroso was also a physician, psychiatrist and a coroner he worked at various mental institutions therefore allowing him the opportunity to examine people from all aspects of life, he knew that by doing so he would be able to collect the relevant information that was needed and which would be essential to base his research on (
Lombroso carried out investigations on the post mortem bodies of criminals, when opened up it went on to reveal that they were physically different from non criminals. He maintained that criminals have stigmata (signs) and that these stigmata’s consisted of abnormal dimensions of the skull and jaw, asymmetries in the face and other parts of the body, he even claimed that different criminals have different physical characteristics which he could distinguish (
Lombroso argued that criminality is inherited, his theory was biological determinism which means that people don’t have any choice in which way they turn out. There is no free will involved the way they turn out is genetic so if the parents are criminal then they are more likely to be criminal. He believed that the born criminal could be identified by physiognomic defects as this confirmed a criminal as savage or atavistic (what he sees as a throwback to an earlier stage of evolution) ( He looked at defects such as a sloping brow, which symbolises low intellect he also suggested that a renowned jaw, symbolised strong passion. Lombroso believes that people bearing such defects behaved in a different way to the rest of society and have a low ability to show any kind of guilt or remorse.
The weakness that was established in this theory found that these associations were later shown to be highly inconsistent or inexistent, and Lombroso had not used a control group therefore having nothing of any substantial nature to compare his results to. This became Lombroso’s biggest flaw in his research and theory. Due to this weakness the theories that were based on the environment causation of criminality that then became dominant meant that he believes the environment makes...

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