Book explores the link between evolution and criminal behavior

Apr 26, 2013

Dr Jason Roach of the University of Huddersfield, along with co-author Professor Ken Pease, has published a new book addressing the controversial issue of employing evolutionary theory to analyse criminal behaviour. UK criminologists have so far shied away from this approach for fear of being linked to less credible theories such as eugenics. Dr Roach, writing alongside one of the world's most respected criminologists, hopes to readdress this balance and encourage new researchers to consider the insights evolutionary theory has to offer.

Child homicide is one example of a crime which can often be comprehended more easily if is introduced into the analysis, according to Dr Roach. He explains that such crimes might be better understood when considering that an evolutionary instinct could mean that some men feel little need to invest any parental responsibility in children who are not biologically theirs – as in the tragic case of baby Peter Connolly.

An understanding of the evolutionary process – who we are as a species and where we have evolved from – can also explain how and why legal systems have developed, as a means of regulating competition between individuals. Dr Roach has also explored empathy and – unique to human beings – and how they function as protective factors to mitigate anti-social behaviour.

"The default position is one of empathy, so those that do engage in anti- should perhaps be nudged towards being more empathic, rather than just simply punished," argues Dr Roach, who is Reader in Crime and Policing at the University of Huddersfield.

His new book, co-authored with Professor Pease, is entitled Evolution and Crime. It argues that although the received scientific wisdom is that human physique and behaviour have been shaped by the pressures of natural selection, the topic of crime is rarely touched on in textbooks on evolution and the topic of evolution is ever rarer in criminology textbooks.

There could be practical applications to his work on evolution and crime, he added. For example, most crime was committed by males aged 16-24, more likely to take risks because they feel they have nothing to lose.

"If you look at our society it is older men that wield all the power. Rich older men also attract young females, which you might say gives them a distinct advantage over their younger counterparts," said Dr Roach.

"Most young men who commit eventually desist by their late twenties, mainly because they 'grow up'. So we need to speed that process up and give them a sense of hope that their time will come and stop them taking all these risks."

Explore further: Study finds law dramatically curbing need for speed

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

The benefits of marriage

Sep 26, 2011

Marriage can potentially help reduce crime by enabling people to develop greater self-control, according to a new study examining changes in marital status, self-control and marijuana use between late adolescence ...

Biosocial crime prevention

Feb 12, 2013

Modern crime prevention would benefit from a greater biosocial approach to delinquency and offending that is rooted in family, school and community intervention strategies, according to a research team led ...

Crime may rise along with Earth's temperatures

Jul 12, 2012

When most people think about global warming, they envision rising temperatures and sea levels. Robert Agnew, a professor of sociology at Emory, thinks about rising crime rates.

New online crime map of England exposes black spots

Feb 01, 2011

The government on Tuesday launched a new crime mapping website for England and Wales, giving residents information on offences in their neighbourhood and exposing areas where crime has brought misery.

Recommended for you

Study finds law dramatically curbing need for speed

Apr 18, 2014

Almost seven years have passed since Ontario's street-racing legislation hit the books and, according to one Western researcher, it has succeeded in putting the brakes on the number of convictions and, more importantly, injuries ...

Newlyweds, be careful what you wish for

Apr 17, 2014

A statistical analysis of the gift "fulfillments" at several hundred online wedding gift registries suggests that wedding guests are caught between a rock and a hard place when it comes to buying an appropriate gift for the ...

Can new understanding avert tragedy?

Apr 17, 2014

As a boy growing up in Syracuse, NY, Sol Hsiang ran an experiment for a school project testing whether plants grow better sprinkled with water vs orange juice. Today, 20 years later, he applies complex statistical ...

Creative activities outside work can improve job performance

Apr 16, 2014

Employees who pursue creative activities outside of work may find that these activities boost their performance on the job, according to a new study by San Francisco State University organizational psychologist Kevin Eschleman ...

User comments : 3

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

BSD
1 / 5 (3) Apr 26, 2013
Violent criminals should be used for vivisection and other medical experiments. These organisms should no longer be classed as humans and therefore should not matter how they are treated. At least it will save unnecessary animal suffering, that is reprehensible. Certainly there needs to be studies on their brains to understand why they do what they do. Violent criminal brains, kept alive by the body, could be used for experimenting with organic computing. That would be fascinating.
tadchem
not rated yet Apr 26, 2013
Criminality in a 'well-ordered' society is simply another dimension of 'diversity,' the presence of heterogeneous elements in a mixture.
rsklyar
1 / 5 (2) Apr 28, 2013
Criminal behavior of UK swindlers from University of Sussex [ https://connect.i...sr/blogs ] should be taken into account!

More news stories

Egypt archaeologists find ancient writer's tomb

Egypt's minister of antiquities says a team of Spanish archaeologists has discovered two tombs in the southern part of the country, one of them belonging to a writer and containing a trove of artifacts including reed pens ...

NASA's space station Robonaut finally getting legs

Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs. For three years, Robonaut has had to manage from the waist up. This new pair of legs means the experimental robot—now stuck ...

Ex-Apple chief plans mobile phone for India

Former Apple chief executive John Sculley, whose marketing skills helped bring the personal computer to desktops worldwide, says he plans to launch a mobile phone in India to exploit its still largely untapped ...

Filipino tests negative for Middle East virus

A Filipino nurse who tested positive for the Middle East virus has been found free of infection in a subsequent examination after he returned home, Philippine health officials said Saturday.

Airbnb rental site raises $450 mn

Online lodging listings website Airbnb inked a $450 million funding deal with investors led by TPG, a source close to the matter said Friday.