Trait theory within criminology harkens back to Cesare Lombroso and the idea that delinquents and criminals demonstrate physiological and biological similarities to our primitive ancestors and can be identified by analysis of these traits. Other sociologists, such as William Sheldon, proposed under the branch of trait theories that criminals manifest distinct body types and physical characteristics which predispose them to certain types of criminal behaviour.
Some trait theorists focus on biochemical conditions as being responsible for antisocial or violent behaviour, investigating disciplinary fields such as neurophysiology or the study of brain chemistry and activity; others focus more on the relationship between genetics and crime in terms of modern biosocial theory. Based around the belief that criminal traits can be acquired through hereditary means and closely tied into Hans Eysenck’s theory of crime and personality which linked criminal behaviour to certain personality types, inherited biological condition, and the extent to which individuals can be conditioned to learn from external stimuli to accordingly inhibit or allow certain modes of behaviour.
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