You are not currently logged in. Please create an account or log in to view the full course.

Forensic Psychology – Criminality

2. Genetic Explanations of Crime

This is the course trailer. Please create an account or log in to view this lecture.

  • Description
  • Cite

About this Lecture


In this lecture, we think about genetic explanations of crime more broadly, focusing in particular on: (i) early research on the role of genes in criminal behaviour; (ii) two twin studies by Lange (1930) and Christiansen (1977) and an adoption study by Mednick et al. (1984); (iii) their findings, which suggested that genetic disposition is a significant predictor of criminal behaviour; (iv) the limitations of these studies; (v) more recent research on this topic by Brunner et al. (1993) and Tilhonen et al. (2015) which has demonstrated that a certain mutation of the MAOA gene is associated with an increase in aggressive behaviour; (vi) the consideration that, while these studies may suggest that genes play a significant role in violent crime, other research has highlighted the fact that genetic disposition only plays a role in combination with environmental factors, such as early childhood experiences of violence.


In this course, Professor Francis Pakes (University of Portsmouth) explores key issues in criminal psychology. In the first lecture, we think about Lombroso and the notion of the ‘born criminal’. In the second lecture, we discuss genetic explanations for crime more broadly. In the third lecture, we examine cognitive explanations for crime, focusing in particular on moral reasoning. Next, we think about cognitive distortions as a cognitive explanation for crime. In the fifth lecture, we consider the criminal justice system, focusing on the aims of imprisonment. In the sixth and final lecture, we think about recidivism.


Francis is Professor in Criminology. He studied psychology in Groningen (the Netherlands) and received his PhD from Leiden University (the Netherlands). He joined the University of Portsmouth in 1998. Francis has a keen interest in comparative criminal justice and the role of globalisation and shaping criminal justice across the globe. His background in psychology serves him well in studying issues of mental health and criminal justice and other vulnerable and excluded populations. He is an expert on prisons, crime and justice in the Netherlands and regularly features in the media discussing prisons, violent crime and other crime and justice related issues.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Pakes, F. (2019, October 22). Forensic Psychology – Criminality - Genetic Explanations of Crime [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Pakes, F. "Forensic Psychology – Criminality – Genetic Explanations of Crime." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 22 Oct 2019,

Image Credits

Get instant access to over 7,200 lectures