Positive School of Criminology
The Positive School of Criminology is a theoretical perspective that emerged in
the late 19th century and gained popularity in the early 20th century. It is
based on the idea that criminal behavior is determined by biological,
psychological, and social factors, rather than free will or rational
The Positive School of Criminology emphasizes the importance of empirical
research and scientific methods in understanding criminal behavior. It views
crime as a social phenomenon that can be explained and predicted through the
study of individual and environmental factors.
Cesare Lombroso classified criminals into several categories based on their
physical and behavioral characteristics. He believed that criminals were "born
criminals" and that their behavior was determined by biological factors.
Lombroso's classification system was based on his observations of prison inmates
and the examination of their physical characteristics.
Lombroso's classification system included the following categories:
Born Criminals: Lombroso believed that born criminals were a distinct group of individuals who possessed physical and mental abnormalities that made them predisposed to criminal behavior. He argued that these individuals were biologically different from non-criminals and could be identified through physical traits such as facial features, skull shape, and body measurements.
Insane Criminals: Lombroso believed that some criminals were driven to commit crimes due to mental illness or insanity. He argued that these individuals could be identified through their erratic behavior and emotional instability.
Occasional Criminals: Lombroso believed that some individuals only committed crimes under certain circumstances, such as poverty or desperation. He argued that these individuals were not "born criminals" but were instead driven to crime by external factors.
Criminaloids: Lombroso used this term to describe individuals who were not "born criminals" but who exhibited criminal behavior due to environmental or social factors. He argued that these individuals could be rehabilitated through education and social reform.
Lombroso's classification system has been criticized for its biological
determinism and lack of empirical evidence. However, it represented an important
shift in thinking by emphasizing the importance of studying biological,
psychological, and social factors in understanding criminal behavior.
Enrico Ferri and Raffaele Garofalo
Enrico Ferri and Raffaele Garofalo were two influential criminologists who
played a significant role in the development of the Positive School of
Enrico Ferri was an Italian criminologist, socialist, and politician who
believed that crime was a social phenomenon that could be explained by
environmental and social factors. He argued that poverty, inequality, and social
disorganization were key factors that contributed to crime. Ferri also believed
in the use of scientific methods to study criminal behavior and advocated for
the use of rehabilitation rather than punishment.
Raffaele Garofalo was an Italian jurist and criminologist who believed that
criminal behavior was determined by biological, psychological, and social
factors. He emphasized the importance of studying individual characteristics
such as personality traits and mental disorders in understanding criminal
behavior. Garofalo also believed in the use of punishment as a deterrent to
Both Ferri and Garofalo were part of the Positive School of Criminology, which
emphasized the importance of empirical research and scientific methods in
understanding criminal behavior. They both believed that crime was a social
phenomenon that could be explained by environmental and social factors but
differed in their views on punishment and deterrence.
Overall, Ferri and Garofalo played a significant role in advancing the field of
criminology by emphasizing the importance of studying individual and
environmental factors in understanding criminal behavior.
Constitutionalism and Morphological Theories of Crime
Constitutionalism and morphological theories of crime are two distinct
approaches to understanding criminal behavior. While constitutionalism focuses
on the role of individual traits and characteristics in criminal behavior,
morphological theories emphasize the impact of environmental factors on
criminality. Constitutionalism and morphological theories offer distinct
approaches to understanding criminal behavior.
emphasizes the role of individual traits and characteristics, morphological
theories focus on the impact of environmental factors. Both approaches have
faced criticism for being too deterministic and ignoring important factors that
contribute to criminality. Ultimately, understanding criminal behavior requires
a nuanced approach that considers both individual and environmental factors.
Constitutionalism is a positive theory of crime that suggests that certain
physical and biological traits can predispose individuals to criminal behavior.
This theory proposes that individuals with certain physical characteristics may
be more likely to engage in criminal behavior due to their innate traits.
The constitutionalism theory is based on the concept of somatotype, which is the
study of the relationship between body type and behavior. According to this
theory, there are three basic body types: endomorphs, mesomorphs, and ectomorphs.
Endomorphs are characterized by a round, soft body type, mesomorphs have a
muscular and athletic body type, and ectomorphs have a lean and linear body
The constitutionalism theory suggests that individuals with a mesomorphic body
type are more likely to engage in criminal behavior. This is because mesomorphs
are believed to be more aggressive, impulsive, and prone to risk-taking
behavior. They also tend to have higher levels of testosterone, which is
associated with aggressive behavior.
Research studies have shown that there is a correlation between body type and
criminal behavior. For example, studies have found that individuals with a
mesomorphic body type are more likely to be arrested for violent crimes such as
assault and robbery. In addition, studies have found that individuals with a
mesomorphic body type are more likely to have a criminal record than individuals
with other body types.
However, it is important to note that the constitutionalism theory has been
criticized for its deterministic view of criminal behavior. Critics argue that
the theory oversimplifies the complex nature of criminal behavior and ignores
the role of social and environmental factors in shaping behavior.
Constitutionalism is a theory that posits that certain individual traits and
characteristics predispose individuals to criminal behavior. These traits may
include things like impulsivity, aggression, or a lack of empathy. According to
this theory, some people are simply more prone to criminal behavior than others
due to these inherent personality traits.
One of the key proponents of constitutionalism was the Italian criminologist
Cesare Lombroso. Lombroso argued that criminals were a distinct biological type,
characterized by physical abnormalities such as asymmetrical faces, large jaws,
and low foreheads. He believed that these physical features were evidence of a
throwback to an earlier stage of human evolution and that criminals were thus
biologically predetermined to engage in criminal behavior.
While Lombroso's theories have largely been discredited, the idea that certain
individual traits can contribute to criminal behavior remains a popular one.
Today, researchers often look at factors such as genetics, brain structure, and
personality traits to try to understand why some individuals are more likely to
engage in criminal activity than others.
Morphological Theory of Crime
Morphological theories of crime, on the other hand, focus on the impact of
environmental factors on criminal behavior. These theories suggest that social,
economic, and cultural factors can all contribute to criminality. For example,
poverty, unemployment, and lack of education are all environmental factors that
have been linked to higher rates of crime.
Morphological theory of crime is a criminological theory that focuses on the
physical characteristics of individuals and how they relate to criminal
behavior. This theory suggests that certain physical characteristics, such as
facial features or body type, may predispose individuals to criminal behavior.
The origins of the morphological theory of crime can be traced back to the work
of Italian physician and criminologist Cesare Lombroso. Lombroso believed that
criminals were a distinct type of human, characterized by physical traits such
as large jaws, sloping foreheads, and prominent cheekbones. He argued that these
traits were evidence of a primitive, atavistic nature and that criminals were
biologically different from non-criminals.
While Lombroso's ideas were controversial and have been largely discredited, the
morphological theory of crime has continued to be studied by criminologists.
Some researchers have suggested that certain physical characteristics, such as
low resting heart rate or high levels of testosterone, may be associated with
One of the key challenges in studying the morphological theory of crime is
separating the effects of biology from social and environmental factors. For
example, while some studies have found a link between low resting heart rate and
criminal behavior, it is unclear whether this is due to a biological
predisposition or to other factors, such as childhood trauma or exposure to
Despite these challenges, the morphological theory of crime remains an area of
active research in criminology. Some researchers have suggested that
understanding the biological basis of criminal behavior could lead to more
effective prevention and treatment strategies.
However, it is important to note that the morphological theory of crime has been
criticized for its potential to reinforce harmful stereotypes and stigmatize
certain groups of people. For example, if certain physical characteristics are
associated with criminal behavior, this could lead to discrimination against
individuals who possess those characteristics.
One of the key proponents of morphological theories was the sociologist, Emile
Durkheim. Durkheim argued that crime was a normal part of society and that it
served important functions such as reinforcing social norms and promoting social
change. He believed that crime was more prevalent in societies with weaker
social bonds and less effective social control mechanisms.
Other researchers have built on Durkheim's work by examining the impact of
specific environmental factors on criminal behavior. For example, some studies
have found that neighborhoods with high levels of social disorganization �
characterized by poverty, unemployment, and high levels of residential mobility
� are more likely to experience high crime rates.
Differences Between Constitutionalism and Morphological Theories
While both constitutionalism and morphological theories seek to explain criminal
behavior, they differ in their underlying assumptions and focus.
Constitutionalism emphasizes the role of individual traits and characteristics
in criminality, while morphological theories emphasize the impact of
Another key difference between the two approaches is their level of determinism.
Constitutionalism suggests that individuals are biologically predetermined to
engage in criminal behavior due to their inherent traits and characteristics.
Morphological theories, on the other hand, suggest that while environmental
factors can contribute to criminality, individuals still have agency and can
make choices about their behavior.
Criticism of constitutionalism and morphological theories of crime
Both constitutionalism and morphological theories have faced criticism from
various quarters. Critics of constitutionalism argue that it is too
deterministic and ignores the impact of social and environmental factors on
behavior. They also point out that many individuals with supposed "criminal"
traits never engage in criminal behavior, suggesting that other factors must be
Critics of morphological theories argue that they can be overly deterministic as
well, suggesting that individuals are simply products of their environment
without any real agency or ability to make choices. They also point out that not
all individuals who grow up in disadvantaged environments go on to engage in
criminal behavior, suggesting that other factors must be at play.
Psychological theory of crime
Psychological theory of crime is an approach that seeks to explain criminal
behavior through the lens of psychological factors. This theory suggests that
criminal behavior is not solely a result of external factors such as poverty or
social inequality, but rather a complex interplay of cognitive, emotional, and
One of the key components of the psychological theory of crime is the idea of
personality traits. This theory suggests that certain personality traits, such
as impulsivity, aggression, and low self-control, may increase an individual's
likelihood of engaging in criminal behavior. Additionally, the theory suggests
that certain environmental factors, such as exposure to violence or trauma, may
also contribute to the development of these personality traits.
Another important aspect of the psychological theory of crime is the concept of
cognitive processes. This theory suggests that criminal behavior may be
influenced by an individual's decision-making processes, including their beliefs
about the consequences of their actions and their ability to control their
behavior. For example, an individual who believes that they are unlikely to be
caught or punished for a crime may be more likely to engage in criminal
The psychological theory of crime also emphasizes the role of emotions in
criminal behavior. This theory suggests that individuals who experience high
levels of negative emotions, such as anger or frustration, may be more likely to
engage in criminal behavior as a way of coping with these emotions.
Additionally, the theory suggests that individuals who lack empathy or have
difficulty regulating their emotions may be more likely to engage in violent or
Overall, the psychological theory of crime provides a comprehensive framework
for understanding the complex factors that contribute to criminal behavior. By
examining the role of personality traits, cognitive processes, and emotions,
this theory offers insights into how individuals become involved in criminal
activity and how this behavior can be prevented or treated.
Psycho-analytic theory of crime
The psychoanalytic theory of crime is a psychological theory that seeks to
explain criminal behavior through the lens of unconscious mental processes. This
theory emphasizes the role of early childhood experiences and unconscious
conflicts in shaping an individual's personality and behavior.
According to this theory, criminal behavior is the result of unresolved
psychological conflicts that originate in early childhood experiences. These
conflicts are believed to be repressed into the unconscious mind, where they
continue to exert an influence on an individual's thoughts, feelings, and
The psychoanalytic theory of crime is based on the work of Sigmund Freud, who
developed a theory of personality that emphasized the importance of the
unconscious mind. Freud believed that human behavior is the result of dynamic
interactions between conscious and unconscious mental processes.
In the psychoanalytic theory of crime, criminal behavior is seen as a
manifestation of unconscious conflicts and repressed desires. For example, an
individual who engages in theft may be unconsciously motivated by a desire for
material possessions that were denied to them in childhood.
The psychoanalytic theory of crime also emphasizes the role of defense
mechanisms in shaping an individual's behavior. Defense mechanisms are
unconscious psychological processes that protect an individual from experiencing
anxiety or emotional distress. For example, an individual who engages in
criminal behavior may be using defense mechanisms such as denial or
rationalization to justify their actions.
One of the key concepts in the psychoanalytic theory of crime is the Oedipus
complex. According to this concept, all children experience a period of intense
emotional attachment to their opposite-sex parent and rivalry with their
same-sex parent. The resolution of this conflict is believed to shape an
individual's personality and behavior.
The psychoanalytic theory of crime has been criticized for its lack of empirical
evidence and its focus on internal psychological processes at the expense of
external factors such as poverty and social inequality. However, it continues to
be influential in certain areas of criminology and psychology.
The psychoanalytic theory of crime emphasizes the role of unconscious mental
processes and early childhood experiences in shaping an individual's personality
and behavior. It sees criminal behavior as a manifestation of unresolved
psychological conflicts and repressed desires. While this theory has been
criticized for its lack of empirical evidence, it continues to offer valuable
insights into the complex nature of criminal behavior.
Criticism of the psychological and psychoanalytic theories of crime
Overemphasis on Internal Factors:
- Critics argue that the theories place too much emphasis on internal factors such as personality traits and cognitive processes, while neglecting the impact of external factors such as poverty and social inequality.
- This narrow focus may not fully explain the complex nature of criminal behavior.
Lack of Generalizability:
- Some critics argue that the psychological and psychoanalytical theories of crime may not be generalizable to all individuals or cultures.
- The theory is based on research conducted primarily in Western societies and may not accurately reflect the experiences of individuals from different cultural backgrounds.
Limited Predictive Power:
- The psychological and psychoanalytic theories of crime may have limited predictive power in identifying individuals who are likely to engage in criminal behavior.
- While certain personality traits and cognitive processes may increase the likelihood of criminal behavior, they do not necessarily guarantee it.
Neglect of Structural Factors:
- Critics argue that the theories of crime neglect the impact of structural factors such as racism, discrimination, and economic inequality.
- These structural factors can contribute to the development of personality traits associated with criminal behavior and maybe a more significant predictor of criminal activity than individual psychological factors.
Lack of Causality:
- The psychological and psychoanalytic theories of crime do not establish a clear causal relationship between internal psychological factors and criminal behavior.
- While these factors may contribute to criminal behavior, they do not necessarily cause it.
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- Analytic Criminology: Mechanisms and Methods in the Explanation of Crime and its Causes | Annual Review of Criminology (annualreviews.org)
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