Genetic influences can interact with environmental influences (Beaver). I have seen this firsthand many time in my line of work (Bail Bonds) with many different families. One case comes to mind where I bonded out a father, and a son various times over the years for domestic violence charges. Both individuals have lengthy rap sheets with a lot of violent crimes on their records. Certainly, the son grew up around a lot of violence and it could have made him turn out like his father. However, there is another way to look at this situation though. The son could have received a lot of his fathers’ DNA from his genes. Parents pass along two components to their children which are genes and their environment (Beaver). Now that I am learning about genetic influences on many things like criminal behavior, I believe it is a combination of both. If someone is predisposed to act in a certain way, and the environment is conducive for certain behaviors it makes sense to me. Sometimes all it takes is a genetic liability along with a criminogenic environment for the effects to surface (Beaver).
Personality traits such as cruelty, kindness, or a bad temper just to name a few are partially caused from genetic factors (Beaver). Have you ever met someone like I mentioned above who was violent or possibly had a drug problem? Did either of his or her parents have similar issues? If so, you could make a case that some of those genes could have been passed down the line to their offspring. Now looking at another example regarding my business. I have bonded out many clients for drug offenses, and I have also bonded out some of their children for drug offenses as well. Did the child learn about drugs by watching their parent(s) partake in this activity or were they genetically predisposed to it? Genetic research studies have shown that genetic factors account for 50% of the phenotype variance, and that environmental factors account for the 505 of antisocial phenotypes (Beaver, 2019). In some of these cases I believe that genetics along with the environment that they were exposed to both contribute to some of their problems.
There are many different criminological theories that are out there. I believe that to see which ones are valid that they must be empirically tested as well. That said it somewhat surprising to learn that many criminologists seem uninterested in looking at criminal behavior as possibly being genetically driven. Maybe it is because most criminologist were trained as sociologists (Beaver). It could be as simple as that. Even so I do not see how genetics can influence someone’s behavior can be just overlooked and ignored. It is unfortunate that criminologists do not receive any formal education of genetics and biology (Beaver, 2019). If they did learn about biology and genetics, then maybe they would come to realize that it is an important factor as who some individuals possess criminal or antisocial behaviors. Biosocial criminology draws attention to the biological and the environmental contributors to many various types of antisocial behaviors (Beaver). I could not agree more!
Beaver, K.M. (2019). Biosocial Criminology a Primer. (4th Edition). Kendall Hunt.
Beaver, K.M. (2021). Survey of Criminological Theories. Week 11 Power Point Presentation. Florida State University.