What causes crime?

One Biological explanation of crime is Low intelligence. Studies have tended to link between low IQ and crime, although the link is not a simple one. Rutter and Giller (83) suggest two possible links. Once is that low intelligence leads to educational failure and consequently low self esteem. This then manifests as emotional; disturbances, conduct disorders and criminal behaviour. The second is that intelligence and conduct disorders may have a common starting point which is not clear, for eg- neurophysiological. Also, more recent studies do tend to find that the average intelligence is below average (e.

g. – an IQ of 92 compared to a norm of 100). One sociological explanation of crime is the learning theories of crime. Children usually learn through classical; conditioning, operant conditioning or through observation or imitation as suggested by the social learning theory. The view that criminal behaviour, in common with all other behaviour, is learned was most clearly expressed by Sutherland (93) in his theory of Differential Association which states that criminal behaviour is learned through association with other people.

Sutherland was describing powerful social forces working on the individual and affecting skills attitudes and beliefs. B) In Evaluation biological explanations of crime help us to understand how genetic potential can lead to problems such as poor achievement at school and inadequate socialization, which may in turn result in criminality. It helps people to understand that criminals are not always fully responsible for their behaviour is a result of internal factors. These theories are generally simplistic, taking only one factor (biology) into account.

It is very unlikely that criminal behaviour can be reduced to a biological explanation alone. They also ignore or underestimate the social causes of crime such as antisocial role models and an emotionally deprived childhood. In particular more recent studies do find that criminals have a lower IQ in comparison to non-criminals but this difference is only small and so could be due to chance. Also, it should be questioned whether IQ is an accurate measure of intelligence or not.

In evaluation for the sociological explanations the theories are based on carefully conducted research which clearly demonstrates the influence of reinforcement and observation on behaviour. These theories can also help to explain why criminality does to an extent run in families. There is a considerable body of evidence to suggest that in real world situations, people do imitate those around them, especially family members or friends. Sutherland's theory supports the sociological theories of crime and subsequent developments of Sutherland's theory which emphasise imitation and observation also support the theories.

Generally, the research is conducted in laboratories and so are low in ecological validity as in Bandura's study. Also, the fact that criminal behaviour tends to run in families is not necessarily due to imitation but may be due to circumstances such as social deprivation, poor genetic propensity to behave in an antisocial way. Sutherland's theory would find it more difficult to explain crimes of passion and other impulsive offences by people who have not been raised by deviant values. Another problem is that it says nothing about the individual differences in susceptibility to other people.