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

Expert Answers
pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

We simply do not know for sure what causes a person to commit crimes.  We cannot experiment on human beings by doing things like taking people with identical genes and raising them in different ways to determine for sure how much crime is caused by genetic factors and how much it is caused by environment and socialization.

There is a school of thought that holds to the biosocial theory of crime.  This school believes that both genetic traits and environment help to influence people towards crime.  To these theorists, there are genetic traits that predispose a person to criminal acts.  However, these traits do not completely determine whether a person will commit crimes.  Instead, a person who has a predisposition to crime can be influenced by their socialization and environment and can avoid actually acting on their predisposition.  Meanwhile, a person with less predisposition to crime might become a criminal if raised in the wrong circumstances.

Thus, at least to one school of thought, both genetic traits and environment and socialization help to determine whether a person will commit crimes.