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Crime Causation: Biological Theories

Genetic Epidemiological Studies, Gene-environment Interactions, Sex Differences In Genetic Liability To Criminality, Is There A Genetic Liability To Violence?

Criminal behavior results from a complex interplay of social and biological factors. Social factors are a reflection of environmental sources of influence, such as socioeconomic status. The terms "biological" and "genetic" are often confused, in part due to the fact that they represent overlapping sources of influence. Biological factors are more inclusive, consisting of physiological, biochemical, neurological, and genetic factors. Genetic factors refer to biological factors that are inherited. Social factors, on the other hand, cannot be inherited. Until recently, the majority of criminological research focused solely on social contributors, either minimizing or negating the importance of genetic and biological influences on criminal behavior. In the past fifteen years, however, a large body of evidence has accumulated that suggests that the etiology of criminal behavior may be better understood when genetic and biological factors are also taken into account. Evidence for the role of genetic factors in the etiology of criminal behavior carries the assumption that biological factors mediate this relationship. Therefore, in this entry, we will first discuss the role of genetics in the etiology of criminal behavior, followed by evidence outlining the importance of biological factors.

JASMINE A. TEHRANI

SARNOFF A. MEDNICK

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Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationCrime and Criminal Law