Lombroso 's Atavism Theory : Genetic Markers Essay

1421 Words Sep 13th, 2015 null Page
One question of which the biological explanation asks is could we identify genetic markers in those with a predisposition to crime? Lombroso’s atavism theory is one of the earliest theories of inherited criminality and links outward physiological features to inherited criminal behaviour arguing it is easy to spot criminals as they are not fully evolved and criminality is innate rather than made. He stated that criminals had distinct facial features for example a large protruding jaw, large ears, extra toes and that they had no guilt and were unable to distinguish right from wrong. Lombroso’s theory is very much an outdated one and has since been highly criticised, firstly the theory is too determinist. Even if there was a relationship between facial characteristics and criminality it does not explain how these characteristics lead to criminal behaviour. It does not take any social or economic factors into account assuming a person is born a criminal and unable to escape their destiny. Some important ethical issues are also raised as his theory almost promotes prejudice, implying we could lock someone away before they even committed a crime just because of them having certain characteristics. One study that disproves Lombroso’s theory is Goring (1913) who studied 3000 non criminals and 3000 criminals and found no difference between the facial features. One explanation is genetics, twin and adoption studies have been used to see if criminal behaviour is related to our…

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