Low self-control and the adolescent police stop: Intrusiveness, emotional response, and psychological well-being

Dylan B. Jackson, Alexander Testa, Michael G. Vaughn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Purpose: The current study extends the literature on both Gottfredson and Hirschi's (1990) self-control theory and adolescent police stops by exploring the role of low self-control in the features and consequences of police stops among urban-born youth. Methods: Data come from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study (FFCWS). Logistic, negative binomial, and ordinary least squares regression are utilized to analyze the data. Mediating hypotheses are examined using the Karlson-Holm-Breen (KHB) method. Results: The findings indicate that youth with lower levels of self-control are more likely to be stopped by the police. Among stopped youth, those with lower levels of self-control are more likely to 1) be stopped multiple times and in multiple locations (particularly at school), 2) report more procedural injustice and officer intrusiveness, and 3) experience greater emotional distress during police encounters and social stigma and post-traumatic stress following encounters. Officer intrusiveness and emotional distress during the stop partly explain the associations between low self-control and post-stop psychological turmoil. Conclusions: Programmatic efforts that directly target facets of temperament, such as low self-control, may in some cases operate to prevent contentious and intrusive encounters between youth and the police as well as the deleterious psychological sequelae that can follow.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101635
JournalJournal of Criminal Justice
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Jan 1


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Applied Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Law

Cite this