Pub. date: 2009 | Online Pub. Date: June 02, 2009 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412971928 | Print ISBN: 9781412950855 | Online ISBN: 9781412971928| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Heather R. Tubman-Carbone
Biological explanations of crime emphasize physiological and neurological factors that may predispose a person to commit crime. Biological theories are outgrowths of the positivist school of criminology. The advent of the scientific method during the 19th century spurred an increasing interest in aggravating and mitigating factors to criminal behavior. Positivism succeeded classical criminology's free will and choice model, positing instead that criminal behavior is the result of an innate, involuntary biological force beyond individuals' control. The earliest biological theories searched for the “criminal man”; they were intent on pinpointing a criminal gene or telling physical feature. Later biological theories are more sophisticated in their inclusion of social or environmental factors. These explanations of criminal behavior posit that biological factors contribute to traits that are conducive to crime, and that such developments may be mediated by social environments. This entry traces the development of biological theory as it is developed, tested, ...