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NCJ Number: 200055 Find in a Library
Title: Strain, Negative Emotions, and Deviant Coping Among African-Americans: A Test of General Strain Theory
Journal: Journal of Quantitative Criminology  Volume:19  Issue:1  Dated:March 2003  Pages:79-105
Author(s): Sung Joon Jang; Byron R. Johnson
Date Published: March 2003
Page Count: 27
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Based on an analysis of data from a nationally representative sample of African-American adults, this study tested hypotheses derived from general strain theory (GST) regarding the relationships among strain, negative emotions, and deviant coping.
Abstract: Agnew's general strain theory elaborates on traditional strain models (Cloward and Ohlin, 1960; Cohen, 1955; and Merton, 1938) by redefining the strain concept, specifying strain-generated negative emotions as the source of deviant motivation, and incorporating conditioning factors into the theory to explain individual differences in adaptations to strain. Agnew defines "strain" as "negative or aversive relations with others," which are of three types: strain as the actual or anticipated failure to achieve positively valued goals, strain as the actual or anticipated removal of positively valued stimuli, and strain as the actual or anticipated presentation of negative stimuli. Although GST is proposed as a general theory for all racial and ethnic groups, it may be especially applicable to African-Americans, who tend to report higher levels of psychological distress due to their more frequent experiences of racism and economic disadvantage. Four hypotheses related to the application of GST to African-Americans were tested with data from the National Survey of Black Americans (NSBA). The NSBA Cross-Section Study, a nationally representative survey of adult African-Americans, was completed in 1980 for a sample of 2,107 respondents. In the NSBA each respondent was asked about "personal problems." More than half of the sample indicated problems in their lives and/or in the lives of significant others. Problems were specified through 120 categories of life events. Follow-up questions examined respondents' feelings related to the problems experienced, as well as their behaviors during times of trouble. Results from ordinary least squares regression analyses generally supported the hypotheses based in GST. Negative emotions derived from strain had consistently significant effects on deviance, regardless of whether the study used composite or separate measures of inner-directed and outer-directed emotions and deviance. Although self-esteem and self-efficacy as conditioning factors generally failed to receive empirical support, religiosity was found to significantly buffer the effects of negative emotions on deviance. Implications are drawn for the further development of GST. 2 tables, 56 references, and appended items used for analysis
Main Term(s): Criminology
Index Term(s): Acting out behavior; Behavior under stress; Black/African Americans; Crime causes theory; Deviance; Strain theory
Note: An earlier version of this paper was presented at the 2000 annual meetings of the American Society of Criminology, San Francisco, CA.
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