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Sheldon's somatotype

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Qian Hua Teo

on 6 November 2014

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Transcript of Sheldon's somatotype

Sheldon's Somatotype Theory
Eddie Chong, Marie Anne Foo, Teo Qian Hua, Sophia Chua, Yeo Si Ning
Sheldon's Somatotype Theory falls under biological and physiological theories
Main Idea: criminality is linked to personality which is linked to body type (somatotype)
3 main body types
In his study, Sheldon identified 3 somatotypes: Endomorphs, Ectomorphs, and Mesomorphs and attributed certain personality traits to each body type.
Personality traits presented by mesomorphs this might lead them to being more likely to be involved in criminal activity.
- To investigate his theory that the more meromorphic you are, the more likely you are to be a criminal,
- Sheldon recruited male college students VS delinquents
- Took photographs of participants and rated each one of them for mesomorphy
- Results: higher the delinquency, higher the average mesomorphy rating.
Empirical Evidence
There exists some issues of reliability in Sheldon’s study.

However, some research supports his initial theory.

Glueck & Glueck (1956) found that in a sample of delinquents 60% were mesomorphs while in a non-delinquent sample only 31% were.
Support for Theory
LESTER & WOSNACK (1990) found Significant correlations of ectomorphy with rated irritability and sensitivity were consistent with W. H. Sheldon's (1942) proposal that genes that determine physique seem to also affect personality.

Mesomorphic offenders were more likely to be in prison for a violent offence than their endomorphic counterparts; the direction was the same for ectomorphs,
Maddan, S., Walker, J. T., & Miller, J. M. (2008).
1) Correlational Analysis: cannot infer cause-and-effect.
2) Types of crime
3) Generalization
4) Developmental
5) Reductionist and Deterministic
6) Gender
Social expectation and stereotype
A powerful build does not necessarily cause or even predict criminality.

Parents tend to be somewhat distant from powerfully built sons, who in turn grow up to show less sensitivity toward others. (Glueck & Glueck, 1950)

In a self-fulfilling prophecy, people who expect muscular boys to be bullies may act in ways that bring about the aggressive behavior they expect

Judicial system may treat them more harshly, increasing the likelihood that they will officially be labeled as criminal (Blackburn, 1993)
1 ) Correlational Analysis: Underlying Mechanism

2) Types of Crime

Genes express differently based on culture (Segal & Yoon-Mi Hur, 2008)
3) Culture - generalization?
Lester (1986) did a cross-cultural test and the data do not support Sheldon's (1942) theory at a cross-national level of analysis.
Caloric intake
Different lifestyle
Psychological and physical maturation not complete
Hard to determine category they belong to and hence reduces predictive value of this theory
With passing years, persons will change from one category to another.
Does not account for within individual variation in factors resulting in criminality
4) Developmental
In the 30-year follow-up of Sheldon's research, Hartl et al. (1982) reexamined the 200 men whose biographies were presented by Sheldon, Hartl, and McDermott in 1949. When conducting a multiple regression on criminal behavior, however, Hartl et al. (1982, p. 531) indicated that none of the variables relating to morphology, mesomorphy, endomorphy, or ectomorphy, were statistically significant.
Adolescent limited or life-course persistent?
Value on intervention? Eugenics?
Potentially discriminatory

Focus on individual factor, very difficult to formulate intervention at this level.
5) Reductionism and Determinism
Different types of aggression
Men: Physical
Women: Relational
- Theory may not apply to women
- Female delinquents likely to be shorter, heavier, and more muscular than female (non-delinquent) college students (Epps and Parnell, 1952)

6) Gender
Theory is limited. Should be considered with other factors to conceptualize criminal behavior!
Epps, P and Parnell, R. (1952). Physique and temperament of women delinquents compared to women undergraduates. Br. J. Med. Psychol., 25, 249-255

E. Sutherland, "Critique of Sheldon's Varieties of Delinquent Youths," Am. Soc. Review, 16:10-13 (1951).

Glueck and Glueck, 1956 S. Glueck, E. Glueck Physique and delinquency Harper and Brothers Publishers, New York (1956)

Hartl, E.P. Monnelly, R.D. Elderkin Physique and delinquent behavior: A thirty-year follow-up of William H. Sheldon's varieties of delinquent youth Academic Press, New York (1982)

Lester, D and Wosnack, K. (1990) An Exploratory Test of Sheldon’s Theory of Personality in Neonates. Perceptual and Motor Skills: Vol 71, Issue, pp.1282-1282

Lester, D. (1986). A cross-cultural test of Sheldon's theory of personality: Journal of Social Psychology Vol 126(5) Oct 1986, 695-696

Maddan, S., Walker, J. T., & Miller, J. M. (2008). Does size really matter?: A reexamination of sheldon's somatotypes and criminal behavior. The Social Science Journal, 45(2), 330-344

Segal, N.L., & Hur, Y.M. (2008). Reared apart Korean female twins: Genetic and cultural influences on life histories, health-related measures, and behavioural traits. International Journal of Behavioural Development. 32(6). 542-548.
which celebrity is most likely to commit a crime???
Violent VS Non-violent
- Maddan, Walker & Miller (2008) found that endomorphs more likely to commit non-violent offenses

Methodological problem
- The use of the term ‘delinquent’ which had no clear legal definition.
When his results were re-analysed using legal criteria the relationship between mesomorphy and criminality disappeared (Sutherland, 1951).
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