Crime Causation Theories

Crime Causation Theories

Crime Causation Theories

Crime causation theories vary, and criminologists’ approaches to understanding crime have gotten increasingly diversified. Criminals rarely fit into a single group due to biological or environmental variables, culture, or socialization. This article will look at some of the most popular crime causation theories that attempt to explain why people commit crimes.

A crime is an illegal conduct that is sanctioned by the law. It is an act that the law makes punishable; the breach of a legal duty treated as the subject matter of a criminal proceeding. A crime is an action that harms both the perpetrator and society, community, or state.

This blog post provides a vivid and detailed explanation of different crime causation theories. As you read along, remember that our qualified writers are always ready to help in any of your assignments. All you need to do is place an order with us!

Crime causation

Philosophers have debated the significance of the concept of cause in relation to human action for centuries. Individuals are increasingly unaware of the origins of other people’s behaviour and the causes of much of their performance. Models for modern crimes favour an interdisciplinary approach that understands how diverse fields complement one another rather than compete with one another. This approach recognizes that no single theory can account for all varieties of crime and the legal and moral concerns that arise as a result of them.

Elements of a Crime

Criminal act, criminal intent, victim, force and injury, perpetrator/ offender, place, and item are the elements of a crime. The phrase criminal act refers to the specifics of the crime, such as assault or robbery.

The psychological condition in which a person intends to commit an illegal act is known as criminal intent.

Anyone directly or indirectly damaged by a crime, such as witnesses, is considered a victim.

Force and injury refer to the use or threat of physical violence; the conduct must result in an injury to be considered a crime.

Anyone who commits a crime is a perpetrator/offender.

The place where the criminal act took place is known as the location.

The thing used in the crime is known as the object.

Five Theories of Crime Causation

The five theories of crime causation are:

  1. Political theories
  2. Sociological theories
  3. Economic theories
  4. Biological theories
  5. Psychological theories

Political theories 

It is believed that any method of crime can be utilized to agree with some political philosophy, implying that any theory can be used to achieve political goals. As a result, any crime perspective is a political theory in this broad sense. And any form of crime might have political ramifications. Of course, radical criminologists have argued that every crime is political at times. Some theorists have proposed criminal explanations that support conservative or liberal political viewpoints and goals. The emphasis on social conflict and government interactions distinguishes an alternative perspective of political theories of crime prevention.

Although the ideas we’ve seen can be used to describe any crime, they have historically focused on explaining fluctuations in crime rates and notably on the various risks of being classified as a criminal. The politicization of all sins is intended to the extent that criminal law policy is viewed as an instrument of political power or repression. Political crimes are rarely regarded as uniquely amenable to display by labelling and debate theories. Still, the counter-argument is that any idea with a political philosophy attachment is usually cited to account for political criminality.

Given the correlation between political views and crime causation theories, it seems likely that the more overtly political philosophy a person has, the more likely they are to attribute political significance to criminality. Approaches sympathetic to conservation and radicalism appear to be more reasonable than theories sympathetic to liberalism in defining crime and criminals in political terms, whether as risks to political resistance or violations of political rights.

Sociological theories

Social learning, Strain, and Control theories are three major sociological theories.

Social learning theory

According to social learning theory, people engage in crime because they learn to do so from their friends and others. They become aware of their bias for criminality and are exposed to criminal models. According to this notion, juveniles learn to commit crimes in the same way they learn to associate with people. Primary groups such as family, friends, and peers significantly influence what kids learn. To learn from others, though, one does not need to be in close contact with them.

According to most social learning theories, the three mechanisms by which every individual learns to engage in crime are differential reinforcement, modelling, and beliefs.

Differential pillars of crime: People may inadvertently encourage others to engage in criminal activity through the support and sanctions they provide for behaviour. More often than not, crime occurs when:

  • Frequently praised and rarely reprimanded.
  • There is a substantial amount of reinforcement (for instance, a lot of money or social approval).
  • As an alternative, it is more likely to be reinforced.

Beliefs favourable to crime: Other people not only encourage our criminal behaviour but also instil pro-crime ideals in us. The majority of people are educated that crime is evil or wrong. They finally adopt this concept, and as a result, they are less likely to be caught up in criminal activity.

The copying of criminal models: Individuals’ behaviour is influenced not just by the reinforcements and punishments they get but also by the behaviour of people around them. Every individual, especially when they like or respect others and have reason to assume that replicating their behaviour or style will result in reinforcement, frequently models the behaviour of others.

Strain theory

People get involved in crime because they are under a lot of stress or strain, they become agitated and feel negativity around them, and as a result, they get involved or connect with some crime. They may engage in criminal activity in order to remove the stain that they are suffering. For example, to alleviate financial difficulties, they may steal, halt harassment from others by engaging in violence, flee from violent parents by fleeing the house, or injure themselves. They may also engage in criminal activity in order to exact vengeance on those who have wronged them. They may begin to use illicit drugs to make themselves feel better.

According to strain-based explanations, people are more prone to commit a crime if they believe they have been mistreated. Strains are an excellent way to characterize these feelings.

According to strain theorists, people commit crimes because the “stresses of life” have become too great for them to handle. Per a more complicated strain hypothesis, a person may resort to crime due to unfair treatment or unequal opportunity.

Control theory

Control theorists take crime for granted, unlike strain and social learning theorists. They claimed that everyone has particular needs and desires that are more easily met through criminal activity than through legal avenues. For example, stealing money rather than working for it is considerably more manageable. According to control theorists, a particular explanation for crime is not required because it is frequently the most suitable means of obtaining whatever one desires.

Riches leads to power, and power leads to more incredible wealth. On the other hand, Weber placed a premium on political, cultural, and religious influences, all of which contributed to social inequity.

The “zero-sum” perspective of the universe underpins the conflict theory of crime: while one group wins something (wealth/power), another group loses.

Poverty, according to conflict theory, does not produce criminal behaviour; rather, the types of healthy options available to individuals in society cause crime (i.e., legitimate means).

Economic theories

The causes of crime are numerous, and a science based on logical behaviour, such as economics, finds it difficult to explain irrational behaviour. The most challenging challenge is to describe the global trend in crime rates in most developed economies. Many social scientists have claimed that crime is inextricably linked to labour, education, and poverty and that wagging, youth unemployment, and crime are all symptoms of social exclusion.

Blue-collar criminals typically have little education and little capacity to work in the job market. Most criminals have poor employment records and low real wages because of these characteristics. These kinds of problems prompted economists to investigate the impact of earnings and unemployment on crime. Economists have recently looked into the benefits and rates of educational programs aimed at reducing crime. The motives for crime are based on an economic model of decision-making in dangerous situations. Economists study how people’s attitudes toward risk influence the amount to which they engage in a criminal act. The concept of convenience is a major feature; assessments are made of the appropriate gain to be gained from a certain course of action.

Individuals are expected to make logical decisions and be involved in either legal or criminal activities depending on the expected utility from each activity. The opportunity rate of illegal behaviour and other elements that influence the returns to unlawful activity is used to describe an individual’s involvement in illicit activities. Criminal justice economic models have focused on deterrent effects and the link between work and crime. It is possible to argue that unemployment is a conduit through which other factors influence the crime rate.

Biological theories

Biological theories of crime proposed a link between particular biological circumstances and a higher proclivity for criminal behaviour. The biological theory of the criminologist Cesare Lombroso, whose investigations of the skulls and facial features of criminals led him to the hypothesis that serious or persistent criminality was associated with atavism, or the reversion to a primitive stage of human development, sparked a lot of interest and controversy in the 1890s. William Sheldon’s notion that criminal behaviour was more common among strong, athletic people (mesomorphs) than tall, slender people (ectomorphs) or soft, rounded people (ectomorphs) gained a lot of traction in the mid-twentieth century (endomorphs). During the 1960s, there was a lot of discussion about whether there was a link between criminal tendencies and chromosomal abnormalities, specifically whether males with the XYY-trisomy (characterized by the presence of an extra Y chromosome) were more likely to commit crimes than the general population.

Although older biological hypotheses have lost favour, research has continued, providing important results. For twins and adoptees, studies have shown widespread evidence of a link between biology and criminality. If twins are identical (monozygotic), they are more likely to share criminal tendencies than if they are fraternal (dizygotic). The fact that identical twins are genetically more similar than fraternal twins shows that genetic factors influence criminal behaviour. Similarly, studies of adopted children have found that their chances of becoming criminals are similar to those of their biological parents.

According to researchers, other biological characteristics linked to increased violence and aggression include alcohol intoxication, the use of some drugs (e.g., crack cocaine but not marijuana), nutrition, and the ingestion of hazardous substances. Long-term effects of consuming lead (such as that found in lead-based paint) have generally been related to long-term increases in criminality. Furthermore, certain forms of head injuries and difficulties during pregnancy or birth are linked to long-term increases in the child’s proclivity for criminal behaviour. In these circumstances, the direction of causality is clearer than with serotonin and testosterone, but it is not fully certain. For example, a nonbiological intervening condition (such as poverty) may cause an increased tendency to commit a crime, as well as an increased likelihood to have difficulties during pregnancy and birth, consume lead and other poisons, and abuse alcohol.

Psychological theories

It’s difficult to distinguish between psychological and sociological views of crime. According to psychological theories, individual and family circumstances play a significant role in offending. Psychological theories are typically established in an attempt to characterize the progression of offending from childhood to adulthood and are thus based on longitudinal education, which tracks each individual through time. The value of such views is that they emphasize continuity rather than discontinuity in the transition from infancy to adulthood. The order of individuals on an underlying dimension like the as unlawful potential is assumed to be generally consistent across time.

Psychologists view offending as a type of behaviour similar to unfriendly behaviour in many ways. As a result, theories, methodologies, and data from the study of various sorts of unfriendly conduct can be applied to the study of crime. According to Lee Robins, Offending is one of the aspects of a large indicator of unfriendly behaviour, which includes heavy drinking, drug use, dangerous driving, institutional problems, employment problems, and other issues.

Typically, psychological theories may include inhabiting, learning processes, motivational, and decision-making. The most prevalent and motivating belief is that people, particularly children, are innately self-indulgent and greedy, seeking pleasure while ignoring suffering, and hence are naturally offensive. Another basic theory is that each person is motivated to maintain an optional level of arousal; if it goes below the ideal, they will strive to raise it, and if it rises over the optimum, they will try to lower it.

Psychologists, in general, are dedicated to the scientific study of human behaviour, with a focus on hypotheses that can be evaluated and refuted using empirical, quantitative data, gathered experiments, systematic observation, accurate and trustworthy metrics, and so on. The sections that follow go through the essential types of risk factors that influence crime:

  • Family impacts, like broken homes, poor child-rearing methods, and criminal parents.
  • Individual impacts such as personality. The foremost important personality thinking about the relevance of crime is abandoned, while Hans Eysenck recommends the most influential theory of the link between personality and crime.

Beyond these broad psychological explanations, it is frequently claimed that certain mental illnesses are linked to the crime. Although mental illness is responsible for a small percentage of crimes, the severity of certain of the crimes perpetrated by people with mental illnesses may inflate its significance. Many mental facilities in the United States closed in the 1960s and 1970s, releasing many mentally ill persons into the community, where some of them eventually became troublesome. There was a great tendency for mentally ill people to end up in jails and prisons because authorities had nowhere else to put them.


The biological theory focuses on the genetic, neurological, psychological, and physiological components that affect criminal behaviour, among other things.

On the surface of economic theory, crime appears to be uncommon, as it is based on a rational behaviour model. The criminal economic model is in which each individual chooses between criminal and lawful behaviour based on a number of factors. Two components, in particular, were studied in the psychological theory study. There are two types of influences: family influences and individual influences. The political theory understands that every crime can be linked to a political ideology and hence be utilized for political purposes. Similarly, sociological theories investigate the three major theories of strain, social learning, and control. All of these characteristics describe crime in terms of social, environmental or fundamental factors, including family, friends, and community.