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NCJ Number: 194568 Find in a Library
Title: Strain, Personality Traits, and Delinquency: Extending General Strain Theory
Journal: Criminology  Volume:40  Issue:1  Dated:February 2002  Pages:43-72
Author(s): Robert Agnew; Timothy Brezina; John P. Wright; Francis T. Cullen
Date Published: March 2002
Page Count: 30
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This study used data from the National Survey of Children to examine why some juveniles were more likely than others to react to strain with delinquent behavior.
Abstract: General strain theory (GST) has secured a fair degree of empirical support since its introduction by Agnew in 1992. Research suggests that many types of strain falling under the theory are related to delinquency, with certain studies indicating that strain affects subsequent delinquency and that the impact of strain on delinquency is at least partly mediated by negative emotions such as anger. GST recognizes that only some strained individuals turn to delinquency, and it predicts that several factors condition the impact of strain on delinquency; there is little support for such predictions, however. This limits the explanatory power of GST. The literature suggests that the impact of strain on delinquency may be strongly dependent on the traits of the person experiencing the strain, with degree of negative emotionality and constraint being particularly significant. To test this hypothesis, data were obtained from the second wave of the National Survey of Children, which focuses on the well-being of children. The first wave of the survey was conducted in 1976 and involved interviews with a nationally representative sample of 2,300 children between the ages of 7 and 11. The second wave was conducted 5 years later in 1981. This involved a subsample of the wave 1 children who were in high-conflict or disrupted families. Interviews were completed with 1,423 children, and interviews were also conducted with the child's main teacher and the parent who would be most capable of providing information about the child. Data from the survey found that juveniles who were high in negative emotionality and low in constraint were more likely to react to strain with delinquent behavior. On the other hand, the study found that negative emotionality/low constraint had virtually no effect on delinquency when strain was low, but a substantial effect when strain was high. Future research is recommended as the basis for the development of an integrated theory that combines biopsychological and sociological variables, including but not limited to strain variables. 3 tables and 76 references
Main Term(s): Juvenile delinquency factors
Index Term(s): Aggression; Crime causes theory; Psychological influences on crime; Strain theory
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