Kallikak Family Study

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Voluminous research regarding the role of nature and nurture in influencing offender characteristics exists today. Much of this research attempts to shed light on the influence of whether genetics or biological factors versus acquired/learned behaviors is what leads a person down the path of criminal behavior. Earliest studies on the subject are Jukes family study and Kallikak family study. The study findings indicate a positive correlation between criminal behavior and family background. However, still some proponents point out to the environment or learned characteristics (nurture) as the key determinant of criminal behavior on both studies. Nonetheless, this paper will examines the nature/nurture controversy with regard to characteristics …show more content…
The name Kallikak is a pseudo name created by psychologist Henry Goddard for good (Kallos) and bad (Kakos). The study documents over a two-year span the aspect of feeble-mindedness in the Kallikak family tree consisting of two family lineages. Goddard traced the history of the family first from an early sexual relationship between Martin Kallikak Sr. and a “feeble-minded” bar maid, which resulted in an illegitimate son. This lineage from the “feeble-minded” bar maid were plagued by illegitimacy, immoral people, epileptics, alcoholics, paupers, thieves, and people of ill repute. Later, Martin Kallikak Sr. married a “respectable” Quaker woman with a good family lineage that resulted in what was considered society’s finest citizens. The children of the second union gave rise to children who had good moral values and the majority became wealthy. Goddard believed that the behaviors in the inferior lineage were the result of hereditary (e.g. tendency for being a criminal was inherited), just as intelligence was inherited; although each family lineage were from radically different environments (Plucker & Esping, 2014). Another major criticism of Goddard is that some of photographs of the families were retouched in order to make those from the bad family lineage look more menacing (Elks, 2005). Although Goddard later declared he had been gravely mistaken in …show more content…
The Cambridge Study of Delinquent Development asserts that a parent’s involvement in crime, especially the father, is a strong predictor to the involvement in crime in his son. Other critical factors that lead to a higher propensity to commit crime are family violence and partner violence. This points to nurture as a critical factor in determining criminal behavior. On the other hand, the study indicates that nature has a role to play in determining criminal behavior. The study results indicate that 52.5% of all arrests in the study sample were family related, while 47.5% did not show any links to the family (Junger et al.,

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