The Gottfredson-Hirschi critiques revisited

Reconciling self-control theory, criminal careers, and career criminals

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

70 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Revisiting Gottfredson and Hirschi's critiques of criminal career research, the current study views low self-control as being analogous to criminal propensity and examines its predictive validity of career criminality among 723 incarcerated delinquent youths. Four key findings emerged. Compared to noncareer offenders, career criminals had significantly lower levels of self-control. Second, youths scoring one standard deviation above the mean on the Self-Control Scale had an odds ratio of 5.36 of becoming a career criminal. Third, self-control predicted career criminal membership with receiver operator characteristic-area under the curve sensitivity accuracies between 74% and 87%, suggesting that self-control is a potentially useful screening device for chronic criminality. Fourth, low self-control was overwhelmingly the strongest predictor of career criminality and far exceeded the impact of age, race, ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic status, mental illness, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder diagnosis, and trauma experience. Further integration between self-control and criminal career research is urged.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)520-537
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology
Volume52
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2008 Oct 1

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Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity
Self-Control
Self-control
Control Theory
Research
Social Class
Area Under Curve
Odds Ratio
Equipment and Supplies
Wounds and Injuries
Criminality
Ethnic Groups
Trauma
Mental Illness
Screening
Operator
Deviation
Offenders
Predictors
Socioeconomic Status

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Applied Psychology

Cite this

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title = "The Gottfredson-Hirschi critiques revisited: Reconciling self-control theory, criminal careers, and career criminals",
abstract = "Revisiting Gottfredson and Hirschi's critiques of criminal career research, the current study views low self-control as being analogous to criminal propensity and examines its predictive validity of career criminality among 723 incarcerated delinquent youths. Four key findings emerged. Compared to noncareer offenders, career criminals had significantly lower levels of self-control. Second, youths scoring one standard deviation above the mean on the Self-Control Scale had an odds ratio of 5.36 of becoming a career criminal. Third, self-control predicted career criminal membership with receiver operator characteristic-area under the curve sensitivity accuracies between 74{\%} and 87{\%}, suggesting that self-control is a potentially useful screening device for chronic criminality. Fourth, low self-control was overwhelmingly the strongest predictor of career criminality and far exceeded the impact of age, race, ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic status, mental illness, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder diagnosis, and trauma experience. Further integration between self-control and criminal career research is urged.",
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AB - Revisiting Gottfredson and Hirschi's critiques of criminal career research, the current study views low self-control as being analogous to criminal propensity and examines its predictive validity of career criminality among 723 incarcerated delinquent youths. Four key findings emerged. Compared to noncareer offenders, career criminals had significantly lower levels of self-control. Second, youths scoring one standard deviation above the mean on the Self-Control Scale had an odds ratio of 5.36 of becoming a career criminal. Third, self-control predicted career criminal membership with receiver operator characteristic-area under the curve sensitivity accuracies between 74% and 87%, suggesting that self-control is a potentially useful screening device for chronic criminality. Fourth, low self-control was overwhelmingly the strongest predictor of career criminality and far exceeded the impact of age, race, ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic status, mental illness, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder diagnosis, and trauma experience. Further integration between self-control and criminal career research is urged.

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