CRIME AND HUMAN NATURE by James Q. & Richard J. Herrnstein Wilson


Email this review


A political scientist and a psychologist join to study the newest research in many fields and apply it to the field of criminology, which leads them to new conclusions about why some people are more likely than others to commit crimes. Wilson and Herrnstein have made a major contribution to sociology and criminology. Their comprehensive work gathers in the latest research in medicine, biology, psychology, sociology, criminology and economics, then applies it to the question of who commits crime and why. They cover the thorny issues of the relationship between criminal behavior and race, intelligence and constitutional factors. Admitting that it can be said that there are as many different causes of crime as there are criminals, the authors show that nevertheless there are patterns to crimes and criminals, and they use these to support their theories. Two such patterns: most crimes are committed by young men and most violent crimes are committed by young men in cities. Premenstrual tension is a pattern that leads some women to commit crimes. Extensively surveying the behavioral-science literature, Wilson and Herrnstein break new ground by reinterpreting old topics in new ways. Their conclusions about the relationship between criminal behavior and human nature are mostly new. Applying the theory of rational choice, they conclude that individual choice is more important than poverty, neglect, abuse or a broken home in determining whether a person becomes a habitual criminal. A weighty contribution to the field of criminology, but strictly for the specialist. To understand a good deal of it the reader needs to be familiar with concepts like control theory and strain theory, Q scores and Porteus Mazes.

Pub Date: Sept. 9th, 1985
Publisher: Simon & Schuster