Evolutionary Criminology

Evolutionary Criminology

Towards a Comprehensive Explanation of Crime

1st Edition - March 12, 2015

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  • Authors: Russil Durrant, Tony Ward
  • eBook ISBN: 9780123984937
  • Hardcover ISBN: 9780123979377

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In our attempts to understand crime, researchers typically focus on proximate factors such as the psychology of offenders, their developmental history, and the social structure in which they are embedded.  While these factors are important, they don't tell the whole story.  Evolutionary Criminology: Towards a Comprehensive Explanation of Crime explores how evolutionary biology adds to our understanding of why crime is committed, by whom, and our response to norm violations.  This understanding is important both for a better understanding of what precipitates crime and to guide approaches for effectively managing criminal behavior.   This book is divided into three parts.  Part I reviews evolutionary biology concepts important for understanding human behavior, including crime.  Part II focuses on theoretical approaches to explaining crime, including the evolution of cooperation, and the evolutionary history and function of violent crime, drug use, property offending, and white collar crime.  The developmental origins of criminal behavior are described to account for the increase in offending during adolescence and early adulthood as well as to explain why some offenders are more likely to desist than others.  Proximal causes of crime are examined, as well as cultural and structural processes influencing crime.  Part III considers human motivation to punish norm violators and what this means for the development of a criminal justice system.  This section also considers how an evolutionary approach contributes to our understanding of crime prevention and reduction.  The section closes with an evolutionary approach to understanding offender rehabilitation and reintegration.    

Key Features

  • Reviews how evolutionary findings improve our understanding of crime and punishment
  • Examines motivations to offend, and to punish norm violators
  • Articulates evolutionary explanations for adolescent crime increase
  • Identifies how this knowledge can aid in crime prevention and reduction, and in offender rehabilitation


Researchers and graduate students in Forensic Psychology, Evolutionary Psychology, Forensic Science, and Criminology.

Table of Contents

    • Preface
    • Acknowledgments
    • List of Figures
    • List of Tables
    • Chapter 1. Criminology and Evolutionary Theory
      • Introduction
      • The Subject Matter of Criminology
      • Evolutionary Explanations in Criminology
      • Why Do Criminologists Largely Ignore Evolutionary Theory and Why Should This Change?
      • An Overview of the Book
    • Part I. The Evolutionary Framework
      • Chapter 2. Evolutionary Theory and Human Evolution
        • Introduction
        • Natural and Sexual Selection
        • The Modern Synthesis and Middle-Level Evolutionary Theories
        • The Extended Synthesis in Evolutionary Biology
        • Summary
        • Human Evolution
        • Summary
      • Chapter 3. Evolutionary Behavioral Science
        • Introduction
        • Applying Evolutionary Theory to Human Behavior
        • The Critical Literature
        • Evaluation and Integration: Toward an Evolutionary Behavioral Science
        • Summary
      • Chapter 4. Levels of Analysis and Explanations in Criminology
        • Introduction
        • The State of Criminological Theory
        • Levels of Analysis and Levels of Organization
        • Integration and Isolation
        • Summary
    • Part II. Explaining Crime
      • Chapter 5. The Evolution of Altruism, Cooperation, and Punishment
        • Introduction
        • The Underlying Assumptions of Criminological Theories
        • Punishment
        • The Evolutionary Origins of Cooperation and Punishment
        • Proximate Mechanisms and Processes
        • Implications for Criminology and Criminal Justice
        • Summary and Conclusions
      • Chapter 6. Distal Explanations: Adaptations and Phylogeny
        • Introduction
        • Key Explanatory Targets
        • The Evolution of Human Mating and Social Structure
        • The Evolutionary Origins of “Crime”
        • Aggression and Violence
        • Sexual Offending
        • Summary and Conclusions
      • Chapter 7. Development
        • Introduction
        • Explanatory Targets for Developmental Criminology
        • Approaches to Explaining Developmental Patterns in Offending
        • Evolutionary Approaches
        • Summary and Conclusions
      • Chapter 8. Proximate Explanations: Individuals, Situations, and Social Processes
        • Introduction
        • Dynamic Risk Factors, Protective Factors, and Desistance
        • Agency Model of Risk
        • Research Implications
        • Conclusions
      • Chapter 9. Social-Structural and Cultural Explanations
        • Introduction
        • Historical Trends
        • Ecological Variations in Crime
        • Theoretical Explanations for Ecological and Historical Variations in Crime
        • An Evolutionary Perspective
        • Summary
    • Part III. Responding to Crime
      • Chapter 10. Punishment, Public Policy, and Prevention
        • Introduction
        • Applied Evolutionary Criminology
        • Social and Situational Crime Prevention
        • Punishment and Restorative Justice
        • Wider Policy Implications
      • Chapter 11. The Rehabilitation and Reintegration of Offenders
        • What Is Offender Rehabilitation?
        • Evolutionary Explanatory Framework and Rehabilitation
        • Rehabilitation Implications
        • Example of Empathy and Altruism
        • Conclusions
      • Chapter 12. Looking Forward from the Perspective of the Past
        • Integrative Pluralism: A Deeper Ontology
        • Embodiment
        • Emotion
        • Distributed Cognition
        • Conclusions
    • References
    • Index

Product details

  • No. of pages: 348
  • Language: English
  • Copyright: © Academic Press 2015
  • Published: March 12, 2015
  • Imprint: Academic Press
  • eBook ISBN: 9780123984937
  • Hardcover ISBN: 9780123979377

About the Authors

Russil Durrant

Russil Durrant
Russil Durrant, PhD, is a senior lecturer at the Institute of Criminology at Victoria University of Wellington, where he teaches courses in criminal and forensic psychology, and criminological research methods. His research interests include violent offending, the psychology of punishment, and the role of evolutionary explanations in criminology. He is author of Substance Abuse: Cultural and Historical Perspectives (Sage, 2003), and An Introduction to Criminal Psychology (Routledge, 2013).

Affiliations and Expertise

Victoria University of Wellington, School of Social and Cultural Studies, Wellington, New Zealand

Tony Ward

Tony Ward
Tony Ward, PhD, DipClinPsyc, is currently professor in clinical psychology and director of clinical training at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. He has taught clinical and forensic psychology at the universities of Melbourne, Canterbury, and Deakin and is a professorial fellow at the Universities of Birmingham, Kent, Melbourne, and Portsmouth. He has coauthored more than 370 academic publications, and his major research interests include desistance and reintegration processes in offenders, conceptualizations of risk and its management, cognition and evolutionary approaches to crime, and ethical issues in forensic and correctional psychology. He was given the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers (ATSA) 2003 significant achievement award for his research into offence pathways. Professor Ward is the developer of the Good Lives Model and has published numerous books, book chapters, and academic articles on this model since 2002. His recent book, Desistance from sex offending: Alternatives to throwing away the keys (2011, Guilford Press- coauthored with Richard Laws), presents an integration of the GLM with desistance theory and research. He is currently working on a book length project on evolution, agency, and sexual offending.

Affiliations and Expertise

Victoria University of Wellington, School of Psychology, Wellington, New Zealand

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