SOC 220 Week 3 Discussion 2

SOC 220 Week 3 Discussion 2


While biological explanations of criminal deviance may be scientifically accurate, they do not provide much in the way of practical solutions. Psychological approaches are better used to explain criminal activity. Solving social deviance on a macro level may be helpful in reducing crime but changing patterns at the community or national level will have little effect on an individuals’ decisions to commit crimes.

Biological explanations for criminal activity can explain why some people are more inclined towards criminal behavior than others. The biological explanations often include genetics, brain structure and function, and learning mechanisms. Also the biological approaches can be used in explaining social deviance on a macro level. One such example is the “fear hypothesis.” The fear hypothesis says that there is a link between social deviance and social order, individual’s fears of their consequences, and the functioning of their nervous systems. It provides that in most cases where an individual possesses social skills, has positive self-esteem and feels good about him or herself, those surrounding the person will not fear them. However, if that person acting in a crime does not possess these aforementioned qualities then their environment will be fearful of possibly being victimized by their criminal activities.

It is a popular belief that biology causes criminal deviance, but this claim is controversial. The late Canadian psychologist and cognitive theorist, Dr. Donald Hebb, found that when a person committed a crime, it was due to their hostile attitude towards society. He claimed that individuals are inherently programmed to be ‘good’, but when they come into contact with an immoral society, they follow the examples around them, turning bad. However, if these people live in a ‘good’ society they will not become criminals through nature.

On a social level, the criminological theorist David Matza (1969) devised an approach to deviance that was based on a middle-range theory. He called it the neutralization model which explains how individuals can neutralize, or justify criminal behavior with other meaningful elements of their life. Matza’s neutralization model is basically a list of rationalizations for deviant behavior. Matza’s six types of neutralizations are: denial of responsibility, denial of injury, denial of victim, condemnation of the condemners, appeal to higher loyalties and advocacy of higher justice.

Bio-criminology (also known as biosocial criminology) is the blossoming field that studies the biological factors involved in criminal and anti-social behavior. While all humans possess a certain degree of emotional and behavioral deviance, there are those who choose to act upon their deviance despite their own best interests. The model of biosocial criminology seeks to explain this phenomenon by integrating one’s biological make up with psychological, environmental and social factors of their upbringing. As many people would likely agree, it is important to understand all of these factors when dealing with such a sensitive issue.






Explain if there is a biological explanation for criminal deviance. Provide an example of a biological explanation for criminal activity. Explain if psychological approaches are better used to explain criminal deviance. Provide a solution to social deviance on a macro level.

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