What causes a person to commit a murder, or even a lesser offense such as burglary?

Nature versus Nurture There have been many discussions and debates about what causes crime. What causes a person to commit a murder, or even a lesser offense such as burglary? Some people would assume that criminal behavior was due to a person’s upbringing and/or life experiences (“nurture”). Others would suggest that criminal behavior is more complex and would involve a person’s genetic makeup (“nature”). Are people just born that way? Is criminal behavior pre-determined at some point in people’s lives that they will become criminals? These are valid questions when examining the root of crime and the criminal mind. There are nine generally accepted categories of criminal behavior. They are Classical, Biological, Psychobiological, Psychological, Sociological, Social-Psychological, Conflict, Phenomenological, and Emergent. These classifications are not meant to legitimize a person’s action when committing a crime. They can, however, assist scientists in developing a better understanding of what causes crime. Studies comparing identical and non-identical twins, and also the outcome of adopted children, have provided convincing evidence of a modest genetic contribution to crime. Another line of inquiry has looked at the effect of early brain damage, such as might be acquired at birth, and found a link with later violent crime (Wessely, 1995). Researchers have found that there are many different factors that go into the development of a criminal mind, and it is impossible to single out one particular cause of criminal behavior. Criminal behavior often stems from both biological and environmental factors. In many cases criminals share similar physical traits which the general population does not usually have. For example criminals often have smaller brains and smaller IQ’s than well adjusted individuals (Gould, 1996). However, biological reasons cannot solely be the cause of criminal …

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