skip navigation


Register for Latest Research

Stay Informed
Register with NCJRS to receive NCJRS's biweekly e-newsletter JUSTINFO and additional periodic emails from NCJRS and the NCJRS federal sponsors that highlight the latest research published or sponsored by the Office of Justice Programs.

NCJRS Abstract

The document referenced below is part of the NCJRS Virtual Library collection. To conduct further searches of the collection, visit the Virtual Library. See the Obtain Documents page for direction on how to access resources online, via mail, through interlibrary loans, or in a local library.


NCJ Number: 153382 Find in a Library
Title: Crime and Human Nature
Corporate Author: Films for the Humanities, Inc
United States of America
Date Published: 1985
Page Count: 0
Sponsoring Agency: Films for the Humanities, Inc
Princeton, NJ 08543
Sale Source: Films for the Humanities, Inc
Box 2053
Princeton, NJ 08543
United States of America
Type: Issue Overview
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This edited version of a Phil Donahue Show (television) presents a professor of psychology at Harvard (Richard Herrnstein), a professor of anthropology at Princeton (Ashley Montagu), and a professor of English at the University of Wyoming (John Edgar Wideman) discussing the nature of and the degree to which the genetic composition of a person determines a predisposition toward criminal behavior.
Abstract: Herrnstein is first questioned by Mr. Donahue regarding some of the claims made in Herrnstein's (and Wilson's) book entitled "Crime and Human Nature." Professor Herrnstein discusses the types of body structures generally found among criminals and the personality traits associated with criminals. Among the latter traits are weak attachments to others, lack of insight about how they appear to other people, a sense of fatalism about their behavior, and a tendency to come from families where parents have inconsistent emotional behavior toward their children. In commenting on Herrnstein's book, Professor Montagu notes that it lacks a thorough knowledge of how a person's genetic makeup is flexible and changing based on interactions with social conditions and environmental stimuli. Herrnstein responds that there is a given predisposition toward criminal behavior, as evidenced by criminal behaviors in identical twins but not fraternal twins and in adopted children whose biological parents have engaged in criminal behaviors. Professor Wideman is on the panel because his younger brother engaged in serious criminal behavior (a robbery in which there was a murder) while Professor Wideman did not. Wideman relates the behavioral differences between himself and his brother to the nature of society as experienced differently by the two brothers. The audience expresses some concern about a tendency to label and adopt a fixed negative view of children who manifest antisocial behavior early in life.
Main Term(s): Criminology
Index Term(s): Biological influences; Genetic influences on behavior; Social conditions
Note: *This document is currently unavailable from NCJRS. Color video, 28 minutes
To cite this abstract, use the following link:

*A link to the full-text document is provided whenever possible. For documents not available online, a link to the publisher's website is provided. Tell us how you use the NCJRS Library and Abstracts Database - send us your feedback.