Investigating Crime and Relevant Issues
Crime is defined as an act which is prohibited by criminal law. These
criminal activities are prohibited for the protection of society as a
whole, or a section of society. Each country has its own series of
prohibited criminal acts. In England, if a criminal act is committed,
the persons responsible are issued punishment of a fine, community
service or imprisonment. Although criminal activity is seen by
society to be morally wrong, and is punishable, people still continue
to commit crime.
Forensic psychology attempts to apply psychological principles to the
criminal justice system. For many years psychologists have tried to
explain why some individuals will continue to commit crime. There are
now several different psychological approaches that are used to
explain crime, including the biological approach, the behaviourist
approach, the humanistic approach, the cognitive approach, and the
The biological approach focuses on how our brain structure, physiology
and our chromosomal and genetic make up can affect our behaviour. It
would suggest that our physiological components predispose us towards
a certain type of behaviour.
In the late eighteenth century a number of studies were carried out by
phrenologists, who studied the shape and structure of the human head.
They believed that there was a link between the shape of the skull and
the structure of the brain that it contained; suggesting certain
abnormalities in the cranium could be related to criminal behaviours.
Cesare Lombroso (1835-1909) was a physician and criminal
anthropologist. He measured the facial features of prisoners in
Italian jails and identified physical characteristics, that he
believed indicated criminality. Individuals that had these features
were considered to be a more primitive type of human being. Among the
features which Lombroso identified were the following: an over-sized
brain; squinting eyes; prominent eye-brows and a projecting jaw.
Lombroso believed that these primitive humans could not adjust
socially or morally to civilised society, could not distinguish right
from wrong, had no remorse or guilt and therefore could not form
meaningful relationships. Lombroso determined, “Some people are born
with a strong, innate predisposition to behave antisocially,” (L’Uomo
Delinquente, Lombroso, 1876).
Evaluation of Lombroso’s Theory
Lombroso made a major contribution to establishing the study of
criminal behaviour and was responsible for moving the study of
criminology towards scientific research, indicating that biological
influences could affect criminality.
However Lombroso’s experiments cannot be considered to be valid
because he never compared his criminal sample...