ERIC Number: ED187655
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1979-Sep-26
Reference Count: 0
Human Nature, Crime and Society.
Mednick, Sarnoff A.
The paper discusses literature which reports biological factors of criminal behavior and suggests how such biological characteristics might interact with the learning of moral behavior. The first three studies of predelinquent and prerecidivistic criminals measured autonomic nervous system responses to stress. Those who later became delinquent demonstrated somewhat underreactive nervous systems; that is, their pulse rates were lower than individuals undergoing the same stressful situation. The next three studies of families, twins, and adopted children linked genetic factors to antisocial behavior. Studies of antisocial individuals also indicated that presence of hyporeactive nervous systems. The conclusion is that adequate physiological fear is essential to the learning process. For example, fear of punishment leads a child to inhibit his stealing impulse; the person with an underreactive nervous system has a slower response to fear-inducing situations. Implications for these findings involve the predictability of who may later become a serious criminal and the possibility of preventive intervention. However, models of intervention such as behavior-altering drugs and severe punishment are inappropriate. (Author/KC)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Information Analyses
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Address to the New York Academy of Sciences (September 26th, 1979).