The Argument for Environmental Influence
The modern fields of criminology and sociology have also established significant direct connections between the external environment and the behavior that develops in the individual (Schmalleger, 2008). Regardless of the effects of physiology and biological processes, there is undoubtedly a tremendous influence in the experiences, formative relationships, and role models to which the individual is exposed (Schmalleger, 2008). Many forms of modern crime are largely products of the influence of social circumstances and the norms that prevail in local communities (Pinizzotto, Davis, & Miller, 2007). With respect to criminally deviant individuals such as serial killers, there are specific types and patterns of formative experiences and psychological trauma that are known to be associated with those types of criminal deviance (Gerrig & Zimbardo, 2008; Innes, 2007),
The Argument for the Rational Choice Theory
The modern approach to understanding criminal deviance also recognizes the importance of elements of the classical rational choice theories, such as those of Cesare Beccaria and Jeremy Bentham (Schmalleger, 2008). In principle, rational choice suggests that most criminal deviance is the product of autonomous volitional choices made by individuals; it considers those choices to be functions of risk-benefit or pleasure-pain dynamics.
Moreover, rational choice theorists consider the prevention of deviant behavior to be one of the responsibilities of modern government through effective deterrence and punishment. In theory, appropriately harsh penalties imposed for criminal choices can prevent those instances of criminal choices that do reflect rational choice volitional decisions (Schmalleger, 2008).
In many respects, the modern view of criminal deviance reflects a more refined approach to incorporating different avenues of analysis more than it necessarily refutes major theoretical aspects of classical theories. Modern analysis simply applies physiological, environmental, and rational choice concepts where they are most appropriate and recognizes the limits of those concepts within the overall understanding of deviant behavior. Generally, the modern approach recognizes that most aspects of human behavior are highly reflective of influences across a broad range of factors in all of those areas.
Gerrig, R. And Zimbardo, P. (2008). Psychology and Life. New York: Allyn & Bacon.
Innes, B. (2007). Serial Killers: The Story of Historys Most Evil Murderers. London:
Pinizzotto, a., Davis, E., and Miller, C. (2007). “Street Gang Mentality: A Mosaic of Remorseless Violence and Relentless Loyalty.” FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin,.