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CCJ 221 Introduction to Criminology- Sociological Theory

Compare Your Theories

You have read about classical, biological, and psychological explanations for criminal behavior. This assignment requires you to compare theories already explored in this module. As you prepare this assignment, you should list the tenets for each theory. Think about how they build on the previous theories and then deviate into a new explanation for behavior.


Prepare a report that compares classical, biological, and psychological theories. Your paper should:
Describe how these theories are both similar to and unlike one another.

Explain which theory is most applicable to crimes committed today.



There are certain theories that define the criminal behaviour and attempts to find out the reason for criminal activities that differentiate a criminal from an innocent person (Cornish & Clarke, 2014). The theories can be divided into four parts:

  • Biological theory;
  • Psychological theory;
  • Sociological theory; and
  • Cultural theory.

All the theories have described the reason of criminal behaviour from their own perspective and pointed out the characteristics of the criminals. Each theory has their credibility and some comparative characters as against each other. However, all the theories are intended to define the criminal characteristics of the person and attempted to find out the source of mens rea that resulted into actus reus.


Biological explanation:

The biological explanation is based on three theories: Cesare Lombroso theory, Y chromosome theory and William Sheldon theory (McCaghy et al., 2016). According to the biological explanation, the criminal behaviour of a person is based on the physical shape of the person. In this theory, it has been stated that twisted nose, long arms and large jaws are the symbol of borne criminals. It has also been stated that the physical profile of a person can also differentiate the criminal from others. According to this theory, the muscular persons have a prone to commit crime. 

Psychological explanation:

Unlike biological explanation, psychological theories concentrate on the thinking capacity of the criminals. The supporter of the theory believes that the thought of a person dictate the criminal activities and the theory is based on four basic ideas: failure in psychological development, learned behaviour of aggression, inherent personality traits and psychological disorders (Morizot, 2015). According to Hans Eysenck, the criminal has lack of strong conscience. He has concentrated on the Psychotics of a person. It has been observed that many criminals face trouble regarding the failure in psychological development. They do not have any knowledge regarding the differences between the right and wrong. Circumstances are also playing an important role behind the criminal behaviour. It has been observed that the persons who were victimised in their early childhood, often grow criminal mentality. Albert DeSalvo, Andre Crawford is the instances of this kind. Psychological disorders can also drive a person to commit crime.

Classical explanation:

Classical theory has attempted to define the free will of a person and held this responsible for the criminal behaviour. This theory does not support the mental stability of the criminals (Farrington, 2017). According to this theory, the criminals are committed the offence with free will and they are stable enough to identify the criminal activities. This theory has rejected the biological formation of the criminal and stated that any person can be a criminal irrespective of physical shape. This theory supports the punishment process to curb the crime.


It can, therefore be said that all the three theories have their own notion regarding the criminal behaviour of a person and conducted research from different aspects. However, all the three theories have identified the criminal behaviour of a person and the objective of all the theories is common.


Cornish, D. B., & Clarke, R. V. (Eds.). (2014). The reasoning criminal: Rational choice perspectives on offending. Transaction Publishers.

Farrington, D. P. (Ed.). (2017). Integrated developmental and life-course theories of offending. Routledge.

McCaghy, C. H., Capron, T. A., Jamieson, J. D., & Carey, S. H. H. (2016). Deviant behavior: Crime, conflict, and interest groups. Routledge.

Morizot, J. (2015). 10 The Contribution of Temperament and Personality Traits to Criminal and Antisocial Behavior Development and Desistance. In The development of criminal and antisocial behavior (pp. 137-165). Springer International Publishing.

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