Criminology: Biological Theory of Deviant Behavior

Criminological theories as a separate area of ​​this science differ in many criteria, and one of them is the hereditary nature of delinquency. In this regard, a biological concept has emerged, which, as Cullen, Agnew, and Wilcox (2017) note, represents the idea that deviant behavior and criminal tendency are innate features that develop in the course of human life. This hypothesis is confirmed in practice since there are many examples of how the inherent genetic properties of a character affect a person.

According to Ling, Umbach, and Raine (2019), “biological correlates of antisocial and criminal behavior are inextricably linked” (p. 14). At the same time, this concept is not the only one where a character and a particular environment determine inclinations to delinquency. There is a strain crime theory implying that certain social principles encourage or, on the contrary, impede the manifestations of deviant behavior. In order to compare the similarity of these two concepts, the examples of their interpretation may be given.

Since the biological theory is based on the principle of adopting certain inclinations, the environment and social circle are, as a rule, additional reinforcing factors. Broidy and Santoro (2018) remark that if a person is raised in the conditions of “racial discrimination and frustration,” there is a high probability that he or she will continue following these ideas in the future (p. 163). This imitation is similar to the signs of innateness when a person adopts criminal tendencies transferred from parents. According to Thaxton and Agnew (2018), individuals are able to influence a large number of people through authority and social recognition. Therefore, the two considered criminological theories are similar due to their natural origin.


Broidy, L., & Santoro, W. A. (2018). General strain theory and racial insurgency: Assessing the role of legitimate coping. Justice Quarterly, 35(1), 162-189. Web.

Cullen, F. T., Agnew, R., & Wilcox, P. (2017). Criminological theory: Past to present: Essential readings (6th ed.). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Ling, S., Umbach, R., & Raine, A. (2019). Biological explanations of criminal behavior. Psychology, Crime & Law, 1-15. Web.

Thaxton, S., & Agnew, R. (2018). When criminal coping is likely: An examination of conditioning effects in general strain theory. Journal of Quantitative Criminology, 34(4), 887-920. Web.