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A focus on Evolutionary Neuroandrogenic Theory and Life-Course Theory in Criminology

Updated on July 7, 2017

Evolutionary neuroandrogenic (ENA) theory postulates that one engages in criminal behavior because of competing for sexual opportunities, status, and resources. This logic which is as well explained as nature notion of criminal behavior argues that genes affect the functioning of the brain by either reducing or increasing chances of individuals learning behavior patterns that either leads to criminality or makes one refrain from it. The ENA theory stipulates that the exposure of brains to both postpubertal and prenatal androgens especially testosterone heightens all types of competitiveness some of which could disadvantage others (Cullen et al, 2014). Accordingly, the high-level of androgen and high prenatal of brain exposure have a significant connection to engagement in criminal behavior. In particular, when an individual’s brain is exposed to the high degree of androgens such as testosterone, this heightened the potential of one engaging in criminal behavior later in life (Hoskin and Ellis, 2014).

The life-course paradigm, on the other hand, is a multi-disciplinary approach which seeks to study the lives of individuals, social and structural contexts influencing their behavior. The model which is a nurture notion presents a connection between the life of a person and the socio-economic and historical contexts in which the lives unfold. These imply that how the person behaves or acts is determine by the given aspects. In essence, the theory elaborates the significance of context, time, meaning and process in the development of an individual and family life (Allen and Bengtson, 1993). While ENA theory centers on biological traits as the key factor leading to criminal behavior, the life-course perspective focuses on the socio-economic environment as the reason for committing crime.

In conclusion, while both ENA and life-course theories attempt to provide differences reasons on why people engage in criminality, the fact is that both social and biological factors combined mold individuals to behave or think the way they do.


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