The study looks at criminal behavior and deviance ideas. From the biological, sociological, and psychological vantage points, specific hypotheses are chosen. They are then carefully examined based on factors like their advantages and disadvantages. The differences and parallels between them are then compared in order to establish a foundation upon which a conclusion for the issue can be reached.

Methods serve as a guide for the research of crime in science. A effective approach is said to be able to offer a lens through which to understand and interpret a trait's manifestation. In the field of criminology, the hypothetical lenses get predominantly guided by models relevant to the areas of psychology, biology, and sociology. Despite isolated theories being able to provide insight into perceived factors, no single principle can appropriately explain crime and variations in its entirety. Due to the absence of a valid explanation, scholars have begun combining theories in hopes of clarifying the whole issue. Theoretical integration encompasses borrowing theoretical paradigms from parallel approaches and integrating them into a single model. The situation is of benefit particularly in criminology as it enhances the understanding of behavior under study more complexly and vividly.

In our discussion, we would analyze the issue of crime based on selected theories. We would critically compare and contrast them in addition to highlighting their advantages and disadvantages. It is of the essence as it helps understand why laws come up, why laws get broken, why we enforce rules and why there is punishment for rule breakers and the effects of crime control (South 1999). The theories under review fall under psychological, biological and sociological viewpoints. In the psychological perspective, we would examine a governing philosophy known as the cognitive theory. Under the biological stance, we would analyze the Lombroso theory while in the sociological point of view we would scrutinize the functionalist perspective.

Classical criminology is related to enlightenment. Current systems of behavioral control and justice and sentencing procedures arose from European civilization (Williams 2012). They encouraged personal thought and consideration rather than forceful imposition by the state. Early pioneers rejected coercion from the authority instead favoring the use of intellect to analyze daily problems and come up with solutions. The impact of the classicism was central to the change of punishment in many areas. The death penalty declined together with corporal punishment. Ideas such as due process and rights of the accused resulted introducing a new era of investigation and fair trial (Williams 2012). Many aspects of the contemporary justice system sprung from classical criminology thinkers.

Neo-classical ideologies have altered the juvenile justice system to take into account impaired reason. Hart, a utilitarian, focuses on free will and refined ideas of responsibility and their capacity both in their relationship to mental abilities and legal, moral and causal aspects (Williams 2012). He was never in support of punishment to serve the happiness of the greatest. Hart uses free will and refines his ideas of responsibility to come up with a retributive model in the distribution of punishment and justice. Classical criminology was not only essential to the justice system but also served as one of the earliest methods in crime causation (Williams 2012). Positivism uses methods of natural science and applies them to the social world. It claims knowledge arises from observation of the surrounding. Positive criminology collects facts and patterns useful for realizing social phenomenon that aid in developing hypothesis. Based on that, we would scrutinize some criminology philosophies and their impact in the explanation of the occurrence of deviance and crime.

Brief discussion of the theories and identification of authors

Psychological theories of delinquency and crime tend to apply both micro and macro levels of analysis (Kubrin, Stucky and Krohn 2009). The area of sociology has put into consideration crime at the macro-level mostly looking for societal and surrounding influences that culminate to criminal traits. Psychological theories tend to consider both delinquency and offense at a personal level primarily identifying individual differences leading to lawless behavior. Despite there being a constant debate on the efficiency of use of both micro and macro levels of examination, many of the current studies aim at identifying multiple influencing factors.

They frequently attempt to explain both micro and macro influences on deviant behavior. Psychological theorists try to provide a structure for recognizing the relations between psychosocial factors in a person and evident abnormal characters. That is regarding comprehending contingencies responsible for preserving non-conforming traits labeled as divergent. Deviance in the context applies to ways in which an individual has come up with measures of coping with environmental and self-imposed demands.

Under psychological theories, an evident category is cognitive models. Theorists focus on how individuals recognize their social environment and learn to solve challenges. Some of the assumptions include normality that is defined by social consensus, an individual is a primary unit for analysis, and personality is the dominant motivational element. Moral and intellectual development perspectives form a central branch in cognitive theory associated with the review of violence and crime. Piaget was one of the pioneer psychologists to argue that people’s intellectual capabilities develop in an organized and logical manner. During the initial stages of a child’s development, they can just respond to their social environment focusing their interest on objects that fascinate them and impact on their motor skills. By the final phase, kids usually have become mature adults with complex reasoning capabilities and conceptual thoughts. Other authors that have developed and illustrated the concept include Kohlberg.

In biological explanations, they see crime and deviant behavior as a form of illness caused by pathological factors precise to specific individuals. There is an assumption that certain individuals are born as criminals, and they are biologically different from non-criminals. The underlying argument is that the individuals have a mental and physical inferiority that leads to an inability to learn and follow the rules, in turn, culminating to deviant behaviors. Other reasons for the flaw are heredity, neurotransmitter dysfunction, and brain abnormalities (Jeffery 1979).

Cesare Lombroso was a pioneering psychiatrist and doctor who came up with theories about criminals. Lombroso rejected the classical thought of crime as a characteristic of humans. He, however, believed that wrongdoing is inherited. He came up with a theory of deviance in which a person's physical composition indicated whether he is a born deviant. The born criminals form a throwback of earlier phases in the human evolution with physical makeup, instincts of primitive human and mental capabilities (Rafter, Posick and Rocque 2016). Nevertheless, the theories are baseless in the current period, and Cesare can only receive credit for being the pioneer in the inducement of scientific methods to criminology. In spite of anthropometric measurements being accurate, the correlation between human physical traits and criminality were wrong. Comparable things happen in every field of human social activity.

Sociological aspects of crime and delinquency focus on either social-structural factor believed to generate such traits or the areas in which socialization to criminal values are affected (Kubrin, Stucky and Krohn 2009). They answer questions such as why do rates of deviance differ across locations and social categories, why some traits are more likely than others to be considered deviant plus why some people are more likely than others to be considered delinquent and punished. Both approaches acknowledge either the implicit or explicit occurrence of some form of learning. Nevertheless, the methods do not explicate the social process and behavioral mechanism by which different characters realize. In general, sociological explanations underscore the significance of social environment and interaction for the commissioning of the crime. Other notions relating to the sociological aspect of criminality include the current process of change the group is undergoing, how contradictions of the interacting groups contribute to crime and crime is viewed from the stance of social construct.

In sociological viewpoint, functionalist perspectives are one of the critical ideologies. They believe that crime gets best examined by looking at the society as a whole and that individual consideration should get avoided (Tittle, and Paternoster 2000). Using that school of thought, one can adequately describe an organization and explain the cause of crime. Theorists supporting the belief believe that offense has a function in the society and that we need it although functionalists feel strongly about shared values and agreement to keep the community intact (Tittle, and Paternoster 2000). They argue that existence of crime brings together other parts of the society because we unite in resolving the challenges. All people get together in the signing of petitions and marches, therefore, helps in promoting and advancing social order. Functionalists believe that crime has a function and if it were not present prisons and the police would not have any duty to the society. Some of the theorists who follow the stance include Durkheim and Albert Cohen.

Critical comparison of the theories

In cognitive perspective, the theorists focus on particular issues regarding development and its impact on delinquency (Heilbrun 1982). One of the authors, Kohlberg, applied the concept of moral development in analyzing criminal traits. He argued that there were six development phases of moral development. Initially, people obey rules due to fear of punishment. However, by the final stage, people follow practices due to an assumed obligation and the belief of universal principles of justice. Kohlberg noted that violent youths were significantly lower in moral development than non-violent ones. Since pioneering efforts undertaken on the research, there has been a revelation that people obey laws to avoid punishment and are likely to be violent than those who mind others welfare. Overall, people with lower levels of morality and reasoning are likely to engage in crime and violence when they make up their mind.

Information processing is the other area of cognitive theory that has received considerable attention. Psychological research unveils that when humans make decisions a series of complex thoughts take place. They first interpret the stimuli before arriving at a conclusive outcome. According to information theorists, violent individuals have the probability of incorrectly using information. Furious people become more suspicious that those who are normal and view others as threatening than they are. The situation is in line with studies that suggest fierce people engage in deviant activities with the thought that they are protecting themselves.

Psychological crime theories are essential to the investigation as they provide a framework used in coming up with typologies of psychological profiles used in identifying the characteristic of different individuals (Kubrin, Stucky and Krohn 2009). Psychological explanations assist the investigator in realizing personality features of criminal individuals. It is of the essence as the criminal mind of wrongdoers is well interpreted thereby raising the chances of apprehension. On top of that, when crime factors get identified, the reprobate would get treated more efficiently thus lowering the rate of recidivism. Nonetheless, there exist disadvantages with the method such as the findings do not get obtained through an objective and empirical means, therefore, representing weak psychology. The other downside of the theory is that it is often applied to sexual and violent crimes and fails to take into account situational factors.

Current biological explanations of crime include genetic predisposition, hormonal imbalance, and blood abnormalities among others (Rafter, Posick and Rocque 2016). The methods do not get implemented as they are invalid. The theories show abnormalities to facilitators of crime rather than the determinants. They involve assumptions. Lombroso who came up with the earliest scientific explanations coined the phrase atavism referring to criminal behaviors resulting from primitive impulses that survived the evolutionary process. He used Charles Darwin ideas and discredited the opinions of Beccaria and Jeremy. Lombroso believed in the determinism thought more than free will that had a foundation of the Italian philosophy. The theorized physical aspects represented the primitive impulses. Characteristics that were found to be common among delinquents got labeled as atavistic.

Atavists had appearances similar to those of humans or the resembling inversion of previous lineages. The situation can take place when past genes with the features get preserved in the DNA of an organism but not expressed in dominate aspects. Classical thinkers made use of the concept to segregate inferior individuals. Statistical evidence that physical traits lead to crime do not get substantiated. Lombroso work was an investigation of studying executed bodies. He took measurements from executed bodies and living offenders and made a comparison to soldiers. Lombroso used the data to relate to consistencies between traits and categorized the findings as criminal features. Among the predictive characteristics were eyes, teeth, cheeks, and nose. He declared that men with more than five attributes of would be marked as born criminals while females with three of the features were potential born offenders.

Based on that, the method has merits and demerits accompanying it. One of the ways in accordance to criminology is that they make a basis for the hypothesis that criminal behavior is predictable by physical traits. Once identified, the criminal conduct can get treated through medical interventions such as hormone therapy, behavior modification, and gene therapy (Rafter, Posick and Rocque 2016). Some of the disadvantages include the methodologies and type of analysis applied to the data. The inability to accurately test the groups can result in a flawed study. The other demerit is that the degree of criminality is insufficiently established based on the sample groups and arrests not sampled or realistically chosen. Potential impact on the public policy is the other demerit. When biological tests get conducted, and the result in credible information for criminality traits, the public cry would rise.

Durkheim noted that deviance is standard and it served as a crucial aspect of the society. His argument was that deviance clarified social norms and increased on conformity. It happens as the discovery and punishment of individuals remind people of rules and reinforces the consequences of going against them. An example is when one is caught cheating in an exam the entire class would get warned of the issue and implication thereby making people refrain. The other significance of social norms is that it strengthens social bonds among persons’ reacting to deviance. A vital function of deviance is that it can help lead to positive social change. Although some of the most famous individuals in history were considered the worst deviants of their era, their commitment and sacrifice are appreciated presently.

Deviance also creates employment for a particular segment of the society such as police criminology professors and correctional officers tasked with the mandate of dealing with deviants. Therefore, if nonconformity never existed, there would be many jobless people. In spite of the positive side, deviance can bring about harmful results such as violent crime. The society should strive at lowering the occurring rates despite the inevitability to eliminate deviance. Regarding that, the theory has some advantages and disadvantages. Some of the merits include the model highlights the leading causes of varying class proportions and defines the collective conscience of crime. Also, it explains the order and rules which people must abide if they strive to realize their goals and describes how individual experience conflict between their pursuit of social goals and means.

Nonetheless, there are disadvantages that the approach faces. They include the deterministic perspective in saying that people get controlled by society contrary to opinions of other sociologists who argue that we have free will. There is the assumption that society gets based on materialistic needs and people commit a crime for material gain which is not true. There is also an argument that laws are created to favor the ruling class and do not reflect needs of the people. Other sociologists dispute that not everyone is inadequately socialized turns to crime, they have, arguably, a broader push to excel and do well in academics and get rewarded (Inderbitzin, Bates and Gainey 2013). Plus not all criminals get stigmatized as some gain status for engaging in such activities.

The theories discussed compare and contrast in numerous ways. In general, they all strive to explain fundamental aspects relating to a complex phenomenon. Their arguments differ and relate to one way or the other. Concerning their similarities, the philosophies aim at clarifying the issue of deviance and crime. Despite using varying approaches and school of thoughts, their goal is analogous. The other comparison is that based on their argument, they provide ways that seem suitable in dealing with the challenged. Each theory tries to validate and ensure their appropriateness.

Conversely, there are contrasts in the identified theories. One of them is the opposing opinion in explaining deviance and crime. Based on the context, each model has a different idea on the origin and cause of nonconforming traits (Kubrin, Stucky and Krohn 2009). Nonetheless, none is wrong as they provide a framework upon which future studies can take place. The other contrast in the methods is the use of different variables in coming up with a valid argument. It is a view on how biological stances used genetic makeup, sociological perspectives use societal constructs, and psychological viewpoints use personality traits. The factors provide major distinguishing factors in their structuring.

In conclusion, an inference can get made that no specific theory thoroughly explains crime and it would be difficult to come up with one. It gets based on the abstract nature of an offense and the many factors that play a role. Biological, psychological and sociological viewpoints on crime address the issue of crime and deviance differently but on same perspectives. Early biological ideas stirred the emergence of contemporary philosophies. Despite some of the concepts not fitting current scenarios, they provide a foundation useful for future studies related to criminology and its related field. Each idea provided thoughts necessitating further expounding and development to fit crime circumstances in place today. All methods present merits and demerits but what is of note is the practical value to criminologists.


Downes, D., Rock, P. and McLaughlin, E., 2016. Understanding deviance: a guide to the sociology of crime and rule-breaking. Oxford University Press.

Heilbrun, A.B., 1982. Cognitive models of criminal violence based upon intelligence and psychopathy levels. Journal of consulting and clinical psychology, 50(4), p.546.

Inderbitzin, M. L., Bates, K. A., & Gainey, R. R. (2013). Deviance and social control: a sociological perspective. Los Angeles, SAGE.

Jeffery, C. R. (1979). Biology and crime. Beverly Hills, Sage Publications.

Kubrin, C. E., Stucky, T. D., & Krohn, M. D. (2009). Researching theories of crime and deviance. New York, NY, Oxford University Press.

Rafter, N. H., Posick, C., & Rocque, M. (2016). The criminal brain: understanding biological theories of crime.

South, N. (1999). Youth crime, deviance, and delinquency. Aldershot, Hants, Ashgate.

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Tittle, C.R. and Paternoster, R., 2000. Social deviance and crime: An organizational and theoretical approach. Los Angeles, CA: Roxbury Publishing Company.

Williams, K. S. (2012). Textbook on criminology. Oxford, Oxford University Press.

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