atavism | Definition


In the field of criminology, atavism is a theory that explains criminal behavior as a result of the reemergence of primitive, genetically inherited traits in individuals.

Atavism theory posits that some people are more prone to criminal behavior because they have inherited traits from their ancestors that were adaptive in earlier, more primitive societies but are now maladaptive in modern societies. According to this theory, criminal behavior is a manifestation of these atavistic traits, which may include aggression, impulsivity, and a lack of empathy. Atavism theory was popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries but has largely been rejected by modern criminologists in favor of more nuanced explanations of criminal behavior that take into account a wide range of social, economic, and environmental factors.

[ Glossary ]


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