Melissa Peskin, Yu Gao, Andrea L. Glenn, Anna Rudo-Hutt, Yaling Yang, and Adrian Raine
Numerous studies carried out over the past two decades suggest that several biological risk factors significantly increase the likelihood for people to commit crime and violence across the lifespan. Researchers trying to understand the relationship between biology and crime have focused on criminal offenders, individuals who display high rates of violent or aggressive behaviors, and those with psychiatric disorders with a strong correlation to criminal behavior, such as psychopathy and antisocial personality disorder. This article summarizes research findings linking neurobiological risk factors with a predisposition to crime, focusing on six domains: genetics, neuroimaging, neuropsychology, psychophysiology, endocrinology and neurotransmitters, and early health risks.
Christopher J. Sullivan
Over the past twenty years, the developmental, life-course framework has emerged as an important means of understanding crime and delinquency. A number of studies tend to focus more on factors that contribute to onset and continuance of criminal careers than their stoppage. Some argue that criminology has fixated too much on trying to elucidate longitudinal offending patterns as series of preordained events playing out over time based on exogenous individual differences. Research has identified a good deal of stability in antisocial behavior and its underlying causes across portions of offenders' lives, along with a fair degree of within-individual change. In 2001, John H. Laub and Robert J. Sampson suggested that desistance, the primary indicator of change in criminal behavior, is the modal pattern in individual offending careers. That observation has become the basis for an empirical benchmark used to evaluate theoretical explanations for offending over the life course. This article highlights ways that developmental, life-course criminologists might enhance their understanding of change.
Francis T. Cullen, Michael L. Benson, and Matthew D. Makarios
Most of the traditional theories of crime only focused on one stage in life, namely the teenage years, because criminologists believed that adolescence was the period when participation in illegal activities increased. This resulted in a wide range of “theories of delinquency” in criminology. This article studies several developmental and life-course theories that help in understanding crime across the lives of people. One of these is Michael Gottfredson and Travis Hirschi's claim that steady criminal behavior across life is caused by low self-control, a characteristic that was established during childhood. Another is the perspective, labeling theory, which warns that efforts to prevent people from offending can lead to an increase in criminality.
Tina Kretschmer PhD and Matt DeLisi PhD
This chapter reviews important strands of research on the heritability of antisocial behavior and crime, including both quantitative genetic studies using twin or adoption designs as well as molecular genetic approaches. Study designs are introduced and findings discussed. Contemporary avenues including gene-environment interplay and developmental models are presented. Overall it is concluded that a significant amount of variance in antisocial behavior and crime is attributable to genetic factors but conclusive knowledge on involvement of specific genes still absent. We conclude with a discussion of usage of genetic information in the criminal justice system and note future tasks for the field of bio-criminology.
David P. Farrington and Rolf Loeber
This article describes two approaches to developmental and life-course criminology (DLC): the “Integrated Cognitive Antisocial Potential” theory developed by David Farrington and the developmental pathways conceptualization developed by Rolf Loeber. The first theory was designed to explain results obtained in the Cambridge Study in Delinquent Development, a prospective longitudinal survey of 411 London males ages 8 to 48–50. The second theory specifies the developmental nature of the delinquency outcomes that need to be explained by any theory, including the ICAP theory. DLC deals primarily with the development of offending and antisocial behavior from the womb to the tomb, the influence of risk and protective factors at different ages, and the effects of life events on the course of development. This article also reviews developmental pathways from minor externalizing antisocial behaviors to serious property crime, violence, and homicide.