“Does genetics or enviornment influence criminal behavior?”

There is a complex interaction between one’s inherited traits and the environment in which he or she lives.  Although, the idea of environmental influences seems rather intuitive, regardless of knowledge regarding heredity and biological factors, it is surprising that so many have considered criminal behavior to be solely a result of genetics.  I propose that the discussion of nature versus nurture should not be whether genetics or environment influence behavior, but rather, how complex the interaction between these factors are.

When I consider the influence of neurochemicals on criminal and antisocial behaviors they are suggestive of a genetic component to such behaviors. There is evidence that the expression of genes is influenced by a wide variety of environmental factors. Therefore, it is very possible that disorders relating to such chemicals as serotonin and dopamine could be caused by stressful environmental situations. If environment affects the regulation of gene expression and the activity of neurotransmitters that modulate behavior, this kind of interaction may be a significant factor in the development of criminal and antisocial behaviors.

The extent to which environmental and genetic factors influence antisocial and criminal behaviors in childhood versus adulthood seems somewhat incomplete. While it is true that adults have more control of their environment than children, I do not think that children are necessarily affected more by environment and adults are influenced more by heredity. Inherited traits provide the foundation by which people are able to learn and respond to their environment. An adult's personality is the combination of traits and learned behavior patterns that have been established throughout childhood. Although it is true that adults have more control over their current environment, I believe that they are still heavily influenced by both their current environment and by past exposure to environmental factors.

The social learning theory is a good way to explain the influence of environment on antisocial behavior in children, and does not necessarily have to oppose the notion of genetic influence on behavior as well. Rather, it should be considered part of a larger theory or model that could describe how environment and genetics interact. Eysenck's general arousal theory, which suggests such an interaction, could be modified to encompass the social learning theory, providing a more complete model to explain how upbringing and inherited traits interact to influence criminal behavior.

Overall, I support of the idea of the secondary sociopath type. Genetics and environmental factors are so intertwined, that it seems impossible to separate them in explaining how people are caused to engage in criminal acts. Also I agree that it is important for society as a whole to take responsibility in preventing the introduction of criminal and antisocial behaviors in children via programs to provide children with healthy, enriching environments. A eugenic (permitting reproduction of only those people with genetic characteristics judged desirable) approach to preventing antisocial behavior is immoral and imposes on human rights, but taking an active approach to ensure positive environmental influences would be appropriate.