Causes of deviant behavior are:

- the imperfection of existing norms and laws;

- imperfection of human nature (egotism, vices, desire to stand out);

- biological and psychological characteristics of the individual (genetic abnormalities, psychopathy, mental defects);

- social conditions of the person's life (upbringing, education, environment, the opportunity to work well and rest).

The causes of deviant behavior include psychological, biological, social, economic and other factors.


At the end of XIX century Italian physician Cesare Lombroso found a link between criminal behavior and certain physical traits. He believed that people are predisposed to certain types of behavior in their biological nature. He argued that the "criminal type" is the result of degradation to earlier stages of human evolution. This type can be determined by such characteristic features as the protruding lower jaw, a thin beard and a decreased sensitivity to pain. Lombroso's theory became widespread, and some thinkers became his followers-they also established a connection between deviant behavior and certain physical traits of people.

William H. Sheldon (1940), a famous American psychologist and physician, emphasized the importance of body structure. He believed that dogs of some breeds tend to follow certain patterns of behavior. Similarly, in humans, a certain body structure means the presence of characteristic personal traits. Endomorph (a middle-weight person with a soft and slightly rounded body) is characterized by sociability, the ability to get along with people and indulgence to one's desires. Mesomorph (whose body is different in strength and harmony) shows a tendency to worry, he is active and not too sensitive. And finally, the ectomorph, who has delicate constitution has a propensity for self-analysis, is endowed with increased sensitivity and nervousness.

Based on a study of the behavior of two hundred young men in the rehabilitation center, Sheldon concluded that the mesomorphs are most prone to deviation, although they do not always become criminals.

Recently, the biological explanation focuses on the anomalies of the sex chromosomes (XY) of the deviant. In accordance with the norm, a woman has two chromosomes of type X, while the presence of one chromosome of type X and one chromosome of type Y is significant for man. But sometimes some people have additional chromosomes of types X or Y (XXY, XYY or, rarely, XXXY, XXYY, etc.). Based on the study of the behavior of male patients in a specialized psychiatric hospital in Scotland, Price and colleagues (1966, 1967) found that the presence of an additional chromosome of type Y was characteristic of men above average growth, who were severe psychopaths.

Further on the material of the Danish crime study, Witkin and his colleagues (1976) found that among men with the chromosome composition XYY, a level of offenses observed was higher than among people who were part of the control group and did not have additional chromosomes. However, men who had chromosomes of the XYY type were not above average growth. In addition, this study confirmed the data that there are more convicted not for murder, but for crimes related to the appropriation of someone else's property among men with the chromosomes of the XYY type. Based on this data, researchers expressed doubt that the genetic predisposition to aggression contributes to the crime of men with chromosomes such as XYY. At the same time, they have a much lower intellectual potential (as confirmed by intelligence tests).

Although these data inspire confidence, some difficulties arise when we conclude that men with a set of chromosomes such as XYY are more biologically predetermined by the tendency to criminal behavior than those who has a set of XY chromosome. Perhaps, sometimes the unusual, even frightening appearance of such men in any way contributes to the fact that they are arrested and found guilty more often than people with ordinary appearance. In case of considering the level of development of their intelligence, we can assume that possessing XYY chromosome is easier to catch at the crime scene, but this does not mean that they commit crimes more often than others.


The psychological approach, as well as the biological theories discussed above, is often applied to the analysis of criminal behavior. The thinkers of the past, who worked for a psychological explanation of the deviation, emphasized the importance of the so-called common states: "mental defects", "degeneracy", "dementia" and "psychopathy". Criminologists tried to establish the connection between the named states and criminal behavior with the help of scientific methods. Psychoanalysts proposed a theory that linked deviant acts with psychiatric disorder. For example, Freud introduced the concept of "criminals with a sense of guilt," - it's about people who want to be caught and punished because they feel guilty about their "craving for destruction", they are sure that imprisonment would help them overcome this attraction in some measure. As for sexual deviation, some psychologists believed that exhibitionism, sexual perversions and fetishism are contingent on the insurmountable fear of castration. For example, demonstrating his sex organ, the exhibitionist, perhaps, thereby convinced himself of its safety.

Careful research has shown that the essence of deviation cannot be explained solely on the basis of an analysis of psychological factors. In 1950, Schoessler and Cressy made a critical review of many scientific papers whose authors tried to prove that offenders and criminals possess some psychological characteristics which are not characteristic of law-abiding citizens. However, no psychological traits were identified, for example, emotional immaturity, mental imbalance or anxiety that could be observed in all criminals. Currently, most psychologists and sociologists acknowledge that the personality characteristics and motives of his/her actions probably have an important influence on all kinds of deviant behavior. But, apparently, with the help of an analysis of a single psychological trait, conflict or "complex," it is impossible to explain the nature of crime or any other type of deviation. It is more likely that deviation results from a combination of many social and psychological factors.

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