Does a latent trait make a person crime prone, or is crime a function of environment and socialization?

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Laurine Herzog eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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This is a question which essentially boils down to the nature-versus-nurture argument. In other words, is somebody prone to certain behaviors because of their genetic makeup ("nature"), or because of the environment and ways in which they were brought up ("nurture")?

Various studies have shown that children with one or more parents who have been in jail or who are currently in jail are more than twice as likely to commit crimes than children without criminal parents. This is not necessarily because of any latent genetic trait, however. It is just as likely a consequence of the social and economic conditions that those parents and their children share. Indeed, socioeconomic status always correlates negatively with most criminal behavior, and it stands to reason that a child raised in poverty is more likely to resort to criminality than a child raised in affluence.

There are, however, also studies which do link certain crimes with certain...

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