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The roles of social bonds, personality, and rational decision-making


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The roles of social bonds, personality, and rational decision-making an empirical investigation into hirschi's "new" control theory
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Intravia, Jonathan
University of South Florida
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Social bonds
Rational choice
Mediating effects
Dissertations, Academic -- Criminology -- Masters -- USF   ( lcsh )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )


ABSTRACT: Control theories have substantively contributed both theoretically and empirically to criminological research. Recently, Hirschi moved away from the personality constructs associated with self-control and created a new conceptualization that favors social bonds. Specifically, Hirschi suggests that counting the number of inhibitors (derived from social bonds) is the best way to predict delinquency. Using middle school and high school students from Largo Florida, this study examines Hirschi's new conceptualization of inhibitors by comparing it with self-control and a traditional social bonding scale. In addition, this study also explores whether Hirschi's new conceptualization and self-control operate through a cognitive scale. Results suggest that some components of Hirschi's new conceptualization of inhibitors are supported, while others are not. Finally, limitations are discussed and directions for future research are outlined.
Thesis (M.A.)--University of South Florida, 2009.
Includes bibliographical references.
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by Jonathan Intravia.
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The roles of social bonds, personality, and rational decision-making :
b an empirical investigation into hirschi's "new" control theory
h [electronic resource] /
by Jonathan Intravia.
[Tampa, Fla] :
University of South Florida,
Title from PDF of title page.
Document formatted into pages; contains 65 pages.
Thesis (M.A.)--University of South Florida, 2009.
Includes bibliographical references.
Text (Electronic thesis) in PDF format.
3 520
ABSTRACT: Control theories have substantively contributed both theoretically and empirically to criminological research. Recently, Hirschi moved away from the personality constructs associated with self-control and created a new conceptualization that favors social bonds. Specifically, Hirschi suggests that counting the number of inhibitors (derived from social bonds) is the best way to predict delinquency. Using middle school and high school students from Largo Florida, this study examines Hirschi's new conceptualization of inhibitors by comparing it with self-control and a traditional social bonding scale. In addition, this study also explores whether Hirschi's new conceptualization and self-control operate through a cognitive scale. Results suggest that some components of Hirschi's new conceptualization of inhibitors are supported, while others are not. Finally, limitations are discussed and directions for future research are outlined.
Mode of access: World Wide Web.
System requirements: World Wide Web browser and PDF reader.
Advisor: Shayne Jones, Ph.D.
Social bonds
Rational choice
Mediating effects
0 690
Dissertations, Academic
x Criminology
t USF Electronic Theses and Dissertations.


The Roles of Social Bonds, Personality, and Rational Decision Making: by Jonathan Intravia A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts D epartment of Criminology College of Behavioral and Community Sciences University of South Florida Major Professor: Shayne Jones, Ph.D. Christine Sellers, Ph.D. Richard Newel, Ph.D. Date of Approval: October 30, 2009 Keywords: c ontrol, social bonds, rat ional choice personality, inhibi tors, juveniles, delinquency, media ting effects Copyright, Jonathan Intravi a


ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS It is a pleasure to thank those who made this thesis possible. Foremost, I would like to thank Dr. Shayne Jones, my major professor. It was an honor for me to have your influence throughout this process. You provided constant encouragement and support, and without your guidance, this thesis would not have been achievable. Also, I would like to thank Dr. Christine Sellers and Dr. Richard Newel for your gracious contributions as committee members. You were both were great resources inside and outside the classroom, and I am forever thankful for your assistance on my thesis. I would like to also thank Dr. Chris Sullivan for his i nvolvement in the beginning of this journey. Additionally, I am indebted to Erin Mulligan, Alex Pellerin, Bruce Waligora, and Eric Waligora. All of you were important in the success of this thesis, and for that, I will always be grateful. Last, but certain ly not least, I would like to thank my family. Most importantly, thank you Mom and Dad for teaching me something beyond school. That is, I can accomplish anything and everything by maintaining a positive attitude and working hard.


i TABLE OF CONTENTS List of Tables ii i List of Figures i v Abstract v Chapter 1: Introduction 1 Chapter 2: Background 4 Ea rly Control Th eories 4 Social Bond ing Theory 7 Empirical Sta tus of Social Bonding Theory 9 Self Control Theory 14 M easurements of Self Control 1 7 New Self Control Theory 23 Empirica l Status of New Self Control 25 Measurement and Conceptualization Issu es 2 9 C u r r e n t F o c u s 3 0 Chapter 3: Methodology 32 Sample 32 P o w e r A n a l y s e s 3 3 Measures 34 Dependent Variable 34 Independ ent Variables 35 Self Control 35 Inhibitors (Social Bonds ) 36 Costs (Cognitive Sc ale) 37 Control Variables 38 Researc h Questions and Hypotheses 38 Analytic Pl an 40 Chapter 4: Results 43 Bivariate Findings 43 Multivariate Findings 44 Chapter 5: Discussion and Conclusion 50 Refer ences 56


ii Appendices 64 Appendix A: Correlation Matrix of All Key Vari ables 65


iii LIST OF TABLES Table 1: Descriptive Statistics of All V ariables 34 Table 2: Bivariate Correlations of Delinquency Scale with Key Study Variables 44 Table 3: Regression Models of Key Independen t Variables with Costs 45 Table 4: OLS Re gression Models Examin ing the Effects of Mediation 46 Table 5: Regression Model of Traditional and New Bonds with Delinquency 48


iv LIST OF FIGURES Figure 1: Mediation Model of Key Study Variables 42


v T H E R O L E S O F S O C I A L B O N D S P E R S O N A L I T Y A N D R A T I O N A L D E C I S I O N M A K I N G : A N E M P I R I C A L I N V E S T I G A T I O N I N T O H I R S C H I S E W O N T R O L T H E O R Y J O N A T H A N I N T R A V I A ABSTRACT Control theories have substantively contributed both theoretically and empirically to criminological research. R ecently, Hirschi moved away from the personality constructs associated with self control and created a new conceptualization that favors social bonds. Specifically, Hirschi suggests that counting the number of inhibitors (derived from social b onds) is the best way to predict delinquency. Using middle school and high school inhibitors by comparing it with self control and a traditional social bonding scale. In addi tion, this study also explores control operate through a cognitive scale. Results suggest that some components of limitations are discussed and directions for future research are outlined.


1 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION C ontrol theories are among the most frequently researched and cited perspectives in criminology ( Cohn, Farrington, and Wright 1998; Vold Bernard, and Snipes 2002) Travis Hirschi the most prominent and influential control theorist, is known for his (1969) work on social bonds that superseded earlier versions of control theories from Reiss (1951) and Nye (1958). Specified as social control theory, later known as so cial bonding theory (1969) theory revolves around the idea that delinquency occurs society becomes either weak or broken. Individuals who have stronger attachment, commitment, involvement, and belief are less likely to commit delinquent acts. Moving away from social bonding theory, (1990) self control theory is currently one of the mos t cited theories ( Wright, 2000; Cohn & Farrington, 1999) and has also generated a significant amount of empir ical attention (Pratt and Cullen, 2000; Sampson and Laub, 1993; Tittle 1991) Self control is based on six interrelated elements, and individuals who lack self control tend to be more impulsive, insensitive, physical (as opposed to mental), risk taking, s hort sigh ted, and nonverbal resulting in a higher likelihood of engaging in criminal and analogous acts. Recently, Hirschi (2004) has moved away from self control and back to social bonding theory. Stemming from problems associated with self control, Hi rschi returned to the four elements found in social bonding theory. By c hanging the definition of self control to now consider the full range of pot ential costs of a particular act Hirschi


2 indicates that both self control and social bond theories are the same. In operationalizing the new conceptualized self control, Hirschi suggests the best measure would be counting the number of inhibitors (social bonds) that deter individuals from committing criminal and analogous behavior. theories (social bonding and self control) have received a great amount of attention empirically, his new conceptualization has not been widely tested. One study (Piquero and Bouffard, 2007) found that attitudinal self control and social bonds were not sig nifica ntly related to delinquency after including the ir ne w self control scale. In contrast another study (Higgins Wolfe, and Marcum 2008) foun d attitudinal self control social bonds, and the new self control scale to be significantly related to delinqu ency. However, it is unclear whether these two studies accurately operationalized the new control theory. Moreover, these studies arrived at contradicting conclusions. Therefore, more research is necessary theory. In t his study, accurately re control scale using inhibitors ( bonds ) is attempted. By doing this, a more robust and p recise measure will help test previ ous empirical inconsi cont rol are addressed. Also, since inhibitors ( bonds ) in new self control are related with rational choice model s this st udy explicitly assess es whether elements of rational choice theory mediate the e ffects of both inhibitors and self control. Using a sample of middle school and high school students (N=1675), this study examines the relationship between attitudinal self control, traditional social bonds new conceptualization of inhibitors and perceiv ed costs with a


3 delinquency scale. Utilizing similar measures and scales from Hirschi (2004) social bonding theory (Hirschi, 1969) and the Grasmick et al. scale (1993), this study will clarify whether of inhibitors is any different than the traditional way social bonds have been con ceptualized and also its indepen dent effect on self control. In addition, this study also attempts to fill a void in the literature by including sts to e xamine whether self of inhibitors is mediated by a cognitive scale In the subsequent chapters, the evolution of control theories will be discussed, followed by a detailed discussion that focus es on the background and previous literature self control theory and the areas that need to be addressed to better understand this reconceptualization. Following th is, the method s section will discuss the sample, variables and operationalization that will be employed in this study. Lastly, the final chapters will discuss the results of the study, followed by the limitations and directions for future research regardi control theory


4 CHAPTER 2 BACKGROUND E ARLY CONTROL THEORIES Social control theories differ from other criminological theories. Rather than examining why individuals commit crime, control theories examine why individuals do no t commit crime. That is, control theories focus on factors that inhibit one from engaging in crime and delinquency, and assume the motivation for deviant behavior exists within all individuals. Early control theorists such as Albert J. Reiss (1951) and F. Ivan Nye (1958) focused on internal and external controls. Reiss (1951) established one of the earliest concepts i of delinquent recidivism. Personal controls refer to how well an individual r efrains from behavior that conflict with the norm s and rules of society. An individual with stronger personal control is more likely to have non delinquent social roles and control over their behaviors. Social controls refer to how social groups and instit utions make norms effective in rules that an individual will follow. Reiss emphasized that primary groups such as institutions and communities These institutions and groups can be found in the form of famil y and schools where both can establish and reinforce non delinquent behavior. This is done by the family establishing themselves into a community and accepting the norms of the surrounding institutions and by the school controlling the attendance of a chi ld to develop and strengthen rational controls.


5 patterns of attitude and behavior: (1) direct control, (2) internalized control, and (3) indirect control. Direct control, shaped by rewards and punishments, occurs when a penalty is assured and delivered for deviant behavior. Internal control, exercised through control may also be the result of the chil d not agreeing with the conforming models and non delinquent people. An individual who has positive feelings towards their parents or prosocial others has stronger indirect control, in contrast to having weaker indirect control if their feelings are negative. Nye also noted that the most important factor in influencing social control is the family. Similar to internal and external controls found in the theories pro posed by Reiss 1961; 1967). Walter Reckless proposed a theory based on inner and outer containments that counteract factors that may cause delinquency containment, developed around age 12 within the family, focuses on individuals developing positive traits on certain components which include self concepts, goal orientation, frustration tolerance, responsibility, and retention of norms (1967 p. 476). Outer containment assumes that individuals are presented with a set of norms and institutional reinforcement of norms, goals, and expectations. In addition, these individuals have strong social relationships with parents, teachers, and their com munities that aid in supervising and punishing behavior. However, when containment is weak and


6 factors, and lack of opportunities for advancement. Pulls include delinquent peers, groups, and subcultures, temptations, distractions, and deviance patterns. According to Reckless, all individuals in delinquent prone areas have opportunities to deviate; h owever, individuals with stronger containments are insulated against the pressures of delinquency (pushes and pulls). Although not original ly presented as control theories Gresham Sykes and David Ma techniques of neutralization (1957) and David Matz principles in D elinquency and Drift (1964) have usually been classified as one proposed techniques of neutralizations which is when individuals temporary suspend the appropriateness of norms by developing rationalization s and excuses favorable to commit delinquent acts. behavior, taking temporary breaks from con ventional moral restraints. The se ideas on neutralization and drift share similarities to components found in rational choice theory specifically the cognitive process involved i n whether to commit delinquency. I ndividuals rationaliz e their behavior s to b e excused to commit delinquent acts during neutralization, which minimizes the consequences of the costs Thus, individuals drift in and out of delinquency when they neutralize the negative consequences of their antisocial behavior. This cogniti ve component of control theories, in which some form of rationalization is important, is also evident in the most well known and widely studied control theories


7 S OCIAL BONDING THEORY Although earlier control the ories had an impact on criminological theory and research Travis Hirschi is considered to have made the most substantive contributions to control theories. His seminal work, Causes of Delinquency (1969), examined what inhibited youth from committing deli nquent behavior. Hirschi resisted personality explanations and moved awa y from previous perspectives (Reiss, 1951; Nye, 1958 ) which used controls that correspond ed e In contrast, Hirschi focused on controls relating to perso nal and social aspects of an individual to more accurately explain the change and variation in their behavior The maj or premise of and / or broken. The bond is composed of four elements that include : (1) attachment; (2) involvement; (3) belief; and (4) commitment The stronger these elements of the bond are, the more likely an individual will be inhibited from delinquent activities. In contrast, the weaker the four elemen ts are, the more likely an individual will commit a delinquent a more thorough explication of his theory is warranted. The following sections will describe the element s further in depth. Attachment refers to relationships with significant others. An individual with a strong attachment cares about others expectations; therefore, they are closer to them, admire them more, and also relate to them. Attachment to parents, s chool, and peers will inhibit an individual from delinquency because an individual will take their relationship with others into consideration before committing a delinquent act. A healthy relationship between parents and their child is important in contro lling and monitoring delinquency.


8 In addition, Hirschi claims that strong attachment to peers can inhibit an individual from peers are delinquent, they are less likely to become delinquent if their attachment to them is strong. In addition, Hirschi emphasized that attachment to school is important. An attachment to school and teachers will help prevent an individual from engaging in delinquency by weighing potential con sequences. Similar to parents and peers, if an individual does not care about their relationship with school, they are less likely to conform to the rules of society which will result in a higher chance of delinquency. If an individual is too busy, occupi ed, or restrained due to being actively involved in conventional activities, they are less likely to find the time to deviate. In contrast, if a (Hirschi, 1969; p. 193). Th ese activities may include sports, school related activities, family activities, and religious activities. Hirschi (1969) recognizes that delinquency is not is consumed, th e less time they will have to commit a delinquent act. The element of belief suggests that individuals will not violate laws in which they believe and respect. Rules are constructed from societal laws and norms, and also from parental socialization. If an finds them to be fair, they are less likely to engage in behavior that contradicts them (e.g., delinquency). In addition, belief can be related to rules generated by parents. If a youth does no t believe and comply with rules that are given to them, they are more susceptible to delinquency


9 Commitment to conventional activities refers to an investment that an individual will not want to risk losing by engaging in delinquency. These include educat ional and occupational commitments. An investment built in these conventional activities inhibits youths from delinquency because they do not want to jeopardize what they have acquired. ional choice theory. This perspective believes individuals will make rational decisions based on maximizing their profits or benefits and minimizing their costs or losses. Because the individual will weigh the pros and cons of delinquency vis vis their c ommitments, this element of the social bond is considered to be the rational choice component. Empirical Status of Social Bonding Theory theory. As his main argument suggests, the weaker the bonds an individual possesses, the higher the likelihood of delinquency. Except for involvement, he found all elements to support his hypothesis. All the elements of the bond have been measured extensively throughout the past four decades ac ross an array of analogous and delinquent behavior. The equivocal support for the theory is illustrated well by the empirical findings related to the element of attachment. Krohn and Massey (19 80) examined minor and serious drug use and delinquent behavior with a large adolescent sample and found that attachment was consistently the weakest of the elements. Robert Agnew (1991) found that attachment was not related to delinquency, but later found (1993) that all elements of the bond (including attachment), mediated by anger and frustration, were moderately related to delinquency. Conger (1976) also found support for the attachment element,


10 although a fuller explanation of delinquency was provided when combining this perspective with social learning theory. Junger Tas (1992) reported that juveniles are more likely to respond with delinquency when parental bonds are weak and family functioning is poor, both of which suggest weak familial attachment. In contrast, juveniles are less likely to commit delinquent acts when they have strong bonds and good functioning in the family. When comparing whether attachment to straight or drug using arrived at an interesting conclusion. In support of Hirschi (1969), they found that when a child is attached to a straight (non drug using) parent, they are less likely to use drugs rug using parents had no significant effect on inhibiting drug use in the child. Hirschi (1969) suggested that the more attached an individual is with others, the less likely they will be delinquent. However, this also includes attachment to delinquent p eers which becomes a more complicated issue. To make sense of this, Hirschi expressed that individuals are usually attached to peers who hold similar interests and often engage in similar behaviors. For instance, if a juvenile enjoys participating in spor ts, they are more likely to seek out other individuals who hold the same interests. The element of attachment and its association with peers is related to the concept of associ ate and engage with others who are similar. attention with other theo retical frameworks such as Aker s social learning theory which suggests that delinquency is pos itively related to the number of deviant peers one


11 has acquired. Conger (1976) explored attachment with delin quent peers and found support for social learning theory over social bonding theory in a longitudinal analysis. In measuring the average number of delinquent acts committed, it was found that the overall average increased when the number of delinquent friends increased and stakes in conventional environments are weak and attachments to deviant environments are strong (Conger, 1976, p. 29). T aking a different approach, Marcos et al. (1986) examined adolescent drug use with social control and differential association theories. They found that the highest correlation of addition, they also concluded that the predominant influence on juvenile drug use, acros s all types of drugs measured, wa s being associated with drug using peers. Similar conclusion s on sm oking and peer s who smoke were found by Massey and Krohn (1986). S peaking more definitively on the issue of attachment to delinquent peers, Matsueda and Anderson (1998) examined both social learning and social bonding theories in an attempt to explain the reciprocal re lationships between delinquent behavior and delin quent peer associations. Using the National Youth S urvey, they found support for both control and social learning theories, and most importantly, they also noted evidence of a reciprocal relationship between delinquent peer associations and behavior. The results suggest that the effect of delinquency on peer associations is significantly larger than the effect of pe er associations on delinquency. That is, delinquency preceded and predicted delinquent peer ass ociation, although such associations did contribute to further delinquency. This specific finding similar to the notion of homophily, is supportive of the explanation provided by control theories and s oci al learning theory


12 Similar to attachment, empiric al findings related to the element of involvement suggest been empirically measured using various institutions, including school, religion, and family. Previous research has fou nd involvement to hold less importance t han the other elements of the bond (Longshore, Chang, Hsieh, and Messina 2004; Durkin, Wolfe, and Clark 1999; Jenkins, 1997; De Li 2004). In one study (Hoffman and Xu 2 002), higher involvement among black students a ctually resulted in higher rates of delinquency. In contrast, Wong (2005) examined 578 fifth through twelfth graders on nine involvement activities across violent, property, and trivial offenses, and found that school and family related activities reduced delinquency. McNeal (1995) examined high school students involved in athletics, fine art s clubs, academic clubs, and vocational clubs. He found that participation in sports significantly reduced dropout ra tes, whereas fine art s academic, and vocati onal cl ubs had no major effect Perhaps some of the discrepant findings relating to involvement are due to the ambiguous nature of this element. That is, involvement may overlap with commitment. Krohn and Massey (1980) combined commitment and involvement into one element. They believe commitment falls under the temporal dimension of involvement, because an individual that is committed to a specific activity also participates in that activity. In contrast, they find it difficult for an individual to be involved in an activity with which they are not committed or committed to an activity without devoting proper time. Amongst 3,065 students, they found that commitment (which also included involvement) demonstrated the strongest effect; it was significa ntly and negati vely related to various minor and serious delinquent acts except with minor substance use. Krohn Massey,


13 Skinner, and Laurer (1983) found similar results for ad olescent cigarette smoking in a different sample. Specifically, commitment to education had on e of the strongest effects in restraining an individual from smoking (see also Massey and Krohn, 1986 ). In another study that focused on drunk driving among college students, individuals who had a stronger commitment to their education and had higher grade point averages were less likely to drink and drive (Durkin Wolfe, and May 2007). Similar findings were no ted when the dependent variable was binge drinking (Durkin et al. 1999). Thus, the findings regarding commitment appear to offer more consistency tha n those rel ated to attachment Lastly, there are also mixed findings in the extant literature when exploring the role of beliefs Massey and Krohn (1986), in a longitudinal analysis, measured belief by a scale that included such items as abiding by the law legitimacy of parental rules, and whether people should obey the law for purchasing cigarettes for underage smokers. They found that belief did not have a direc t effect on smoking, but rather an indirect effect through differential association only in th eir last year of the study (noted as Time 3 in their research). Baier and Wright (2001) performed a meta analysis on religious beliefs and crime using 60 previous studies. They used studies that measured both attitudinal (belief in God, Jesus, the devil, a nd importance of religion) and behavioral beliefs (religious involvement and prayer) and found that both had a significant, moderate effect on inhibiting crime. Belief has also been shown to be related to drunk driving (Durkin et al. 2007), adolescent ciga rette smoking (Krohn at al. 1983), and minor and serious drug use and delinquency (Krohn and Massey, 1980). In summary, although there are some contradictory findings there is empirical support in the extant literature on Despite the weakest


14 support found in familial attachment (Krohn and Massey, 1980; Agnew, 1991), there remains sufficient evidence to indicate this element matters, especially with respect to familial interactions ( Loeber and Stouthamer Loeber 1986). The other elements which include involvement, commitment, and belief more consistently found support with various analogous and delinquent and analogous noncriminal acts. Thus, although some empirical findings argue that relationships with these elements are better supported when other perspectives are combined, there is enough support to conclude th at these elements are significant factors by themselves. S ELF CONTROL THEORY Moving away from social control theory, Travis Hirschi, along with Michael Gottfredso n proposed a new control theory to explain delinquency. In Causes of Delinquency (1969), Hirschi denoted four elements that create a social bond developed from personal or social aspects of the individual. However, in A General Theory of Crime (1990) also referred to as self control theory the focus is on explaining the variation of criminal behavior t hrough only one type of control; an internal form of control known as self control. The main premise of self control theory is that individuals who possess higher self control are less likely to engage in criminal behavior; however, individuals with low self control are more susceptible to pursue criminality and imprudent behavior such as lock, and engagin Hirschi, 1990; p. 90). Therefore, self control can be applied to all types of criminal and noncriminal, analogous behavior at all times. In addition, self control is purportedly a characteristic that can explain all acts of crime and


15 deviance, for all individuals (regardless of race, class, and gender). According to Gottfredson and Hirschi, all criminals will be versatile, committing a variety of criminal and analogous acts. There are six interrelated el ements of self control. First, individuals with low self preference for immediate gratification. In contrast, individuals with high self control have the ability to defer gra tification. Second, individuals with low self control prefer easy or without courtship, and revenge without court delays (Gottf redson and Hirschi, 1990; p. 89). Conver sely, individuals with high self control possess traits such as diligence, tenacity, or persistence. Third, people with low self control seek excitement, risk, and thrills. They tend to be adventurous, active, and physical. On the contrary, people with hig h self control are more cautious, cogn itive, and verbal (Gottfredson and Hirschi, 1990; p. 89). Fourth, individuals with low self control tend to be short sighted. They prefer arrangements with short term benefits over long term commitments. On the contrar y, individuals with higher self control tend to be interested and prepared for commitments such as jobs, marriage, an d family/friends (Gottfredson and Hirschi, 1990; p. 89). Fifth, individuals low in self control lack cognitive and academic abilities; ther efore, individuals low in self control prefer activities that require minimal skill and planning (including crime). Individuals with high self control may possess manual skills and value cognitive and academic abilities. Finally, individuals who have low s elf control are insensitive to others. They are inclined to be self centered and indifferent to the suffering and needs of others (Gottfredson and Hirschi, 1990; p. 89). Those who do not lack self


16 control are more likely to be sensitive and generous to oth ers. The six elements of self control coalesce into the latent construct self control. To understand the connection among these traits, it is important to explore the underlying assumptions of self control theory. In harmony with all control theories, hu man nature is seen as hedonistic and self serving. Thus, all individuals are born without self control; therefore, self control is created through effective child rearing control by establishing a r eciprocal bond between parent and child (Cullen, Wr ight, and Blevins, 2006; p. 89), allowing parenting to restrain impulsive behavior in children and scrutinize the consequences of their acts. There are three minimum conditions necessary for proper child rearing in order to teach children self control and instill traits (premeditative, diligent, cautious, committed, cognitive, and generous) opposite of the six elements found in individuals with low self t hey must recognize deviant behavior when it is happening; and, they must punish deviant behavior when it occurs. More simply, the child will possess the capability of delaying gratification, will be unlikely to use force or violence, will be more sensitive to others, and more willing to accept responsibility for their actions if socialized appropriately. This process can be thwarted in several ways. First, the parents may not care for the child; second, even if they care, the parents may not have the time t o monitor their child; third, even if they care and monitor, the parents may see nothing wrong with willing to implement fair punishment when m isbehavior occurs (G ottfredson and Hirschi, 1990; p. 98). In addition, effective socialization is thwarted by excessive punishment


17 (physical pain and verbal aggression ; Hirschi and Gottfredson, 2003). In contrast, individuals who experience fair, non violent punishment are le ss likely to become future offenders. Self individual was impulsive as a child, the individua l would exhibit the same traits as an adult. W ith this stability assumption of self control, the best predictor of criminal self control will not change as a function of the influence of new peers, family, and most other sources of socialization. As previously noted, the family is imperative for instilling self control in children; however, children are often away from home and the school may offer many advantages th at are important for child rearing. A socialization institution such as school can more effectively monitor behavior of children than the family can and teachers generally have no difficulty recognizing deviant behavior (Gottfredson and Hirschi, 1990). Al though the school may have some effect on instilling self control, it may also be quite limited. Specifically, schools work in conjunction with families, and if the aforementioned familial characteristics are lacking, the school may not be a powerful enoug h institution to fill this void. Me asurement of Self Control In a thorough examination of the extant empirical research on self control theory, Pratt and Cullen (20 00) conducted a meta analysis of 94 studies. Of these studies, 82 used an attitudinal measu re of self control and 12 studies utilized a behavioral measure of


18 self control. On average, they found that 19.3 percent of the variance in delinquent and crim inal behavior was explained by self control In addition, they also found that self control is n ot the only cause of delinquent and criminal behavior. Studies including social learning variables combined with self control explain ed 15.3 percent more variation in criminal behavior than studies that did not control for variables from social learning th eory. Beyond the issue of whether self control is the sole cause of criminal behavior one of the most debatable arguments involves measuring self control. Hirschi and Gottfredson (1993) prefer using behavioral approaches rather than attitudinal scales t o measure self control control are the acts we use self control affects how they respond to surveys, resulti ng in less valid responses than behavioral measur es. This argument was later investigated in Piquero et (2000) examina tion of whether self control affects self reported survey responses. Using an item response theory (IRT) model, they found the Grasmi ck et al. (1993) scale provoked different answers from the participants based on their level of self control This finding is supporti ve of self control influences survey responses. When m easuring self control with behaviors, a few studies used different approaches that ar e specifically appealing. Keane, Maxim, and Teevan (1993) examined with low self cont rol behaviors. Using secondary analysis from the 1986 Ontario Survey of Nighttime Drivers, the civilian Ministry of Transportation personnel administered a


19 short survey and examined BAC levels against their predictor variables. They operationalized low sel f control by examining risk taking, impulsiveness, and pleasure seeking behaviors to measure seat belt use, perceived likelihood of being stopped by police while driving intoxicated, being discouraged to drive after drinking, belief they are over the legal limit to drive, and the number of alcoholic drinks consumed in the previous seven days. They found that measures of risk taking (failure to wear a seatbelt and number of drinks consumed in the previous seven days) had positive and significant effects on a evel. In addition, they found higher BAC levels among individuals who believe d they wer e over the legal limit and who wer e also discouraged to drive. This is an important finding because risk taking and impulsive behaviors that are rela ted to drinking an d driving significantly predict driving under the influence of alcohol. In another study, Benda (2005) used behaviors to measure self control. Using 3,335 high school students as his sample, he examined self reported behaviors that inclu ded tobacco use, threatened/harassed someone, driving without wearing a seatbelt, been involved in reckless driving, responsible for an automobile accident, skipped school, engaged in unprotected sex, shared needles, and had more than two sexual partners i n the previous year. He found that these behavioral measures of self control were positive predictors of drug use, property offenses and person offenses. Using data from the Cambridge Study in Delinquent Development, Paternoster and Brame (1998) used behav ioral indic ators of self control to predict involvement of males (ages 8 9) in criminal and analogous behavior. They found that self control is empirically associated with both criminal and analogous behavior, and strength of association between both


20 types of behavior was nearly equal. Behavioral measures such as smoking and drinking (LaGrange and Silverman 1999) and fraudulent behavior (Smith 2004) have also shown to be significant predictors explaining criminal behaviors. Empirically, behavioral measures have supported self control theory (Keane et al. 1993, Benda 2005); however, using this method creates a tautological issue suggesting that low self control causes low self control. Akers (1991) suggests that there needs to be independent indicators of se lf control to avoid the issue of tautology within the theory. In independent indicators that are not criminal. These include whining, pushing, smoking, drinking, excessive te levision watching, having difficulties in relationships, acci dents, and employment instability as measures that avoid tautology issues within self control theory. In addition to using behaviors to measure self control, another popular method of operationa lizing self control is attitudinal measures derived from personality scales. One of the most recognized and used measure s is the Grasmick et al. (1993) scale which consists of 24 items that tap into all six components of self control. This scale is measur ed using a Likert style system (varying from strongly agree to strongly disagree) that represents whether an individual has low self control. Further, unlike behavioral measures, attitudinal scales do not refer to any specific deviant behavior, thus avoidi ng the tautology issue. Using their 24 item scale, Grasmick et al. (1993) found that the elemen ts of self control formed a uni dimensional trait and significantly predicted criminal acts. In addition, Cochran Chamlin Sellers Wilkerson and Wood (1998) us ed confirmatory factor analyses and found evi dence of unidimensionality for five out of six


21 components of low self or. Similar to results of behavioral measures on self control, studies that us ed the Grasmick et al. (1993) scale have found it to be useful in explaining various criminal and analogous behaviors. Love (2003) established that self control is a significant predictor of illicit sexual behaviors and crimes. Gibson et al. (2004) found that self control was important in predicting both binge drinking and alcohol related behaviors. Further, empirical findings have shown support for the Grasmick et al. scale to s ignificantly explain viole nt and drug offenses (LaGrange and Silverman, 1999), intimate partner violence (Sellers, 1999), academic dishonesty (Smith, 2004), software pirating (Higgins 2004), employee theft (Langton Piquero, and Hollinger 2006), and antiso cial and risky behaviors (Jones and Quisenberry 2004). In determi ning whether behavioral or cognitive measures are better predictors of self control, Pratt and Cullen (2000) presented a meta analysis of the empirical status of self control and found that all types of measur es were sufficient predictors of delinquency and analogous behavior. In addition, they found the average relationship with criminality between attitudinal and behavioral measures was not significantly different (0.257 and 0.277, respecti vely). Other studies have also examined whether attitudinal or behavioral measures are better predictors of criminal and analogous acts. Tittle Ward, and Grasmick (2003) found no significant difference using behavioral measures over cognitive measures. Th ey concluded that both measures provided support and behavioral measures did not explain criminality better. Only one study has found support for Gottfredson and Hirschi and Gottfredson 1993) prediction that behavioral measures are


22 super ior to attitudinal. Using the Grasmick et al. scale as the cognitive measure and various risk taking behaviors as the behavioral measure, Benda (2005) found that cognitive and behavioral measures were both significant predictors of substance use and variou s property and person offenses. However, behavioral measures were stronger predictors of the outcome measures than the Grasmick et al. scale. In summary, similar to social bonding theory, self control theory significantly explains delinquent and criminal offenses. Individuals who develop high self control are less likely to be impulsive, insensitive, physical, risk taking, short sighted, and nonverbal. Different types of samples (male, female, juvenile, and adult) have been tested with similar results; t herefore, the sample does not significantly influence the relationship between self control and delinquent and criminal behavior (Pratt and Cullen, 2000). Conversely, one of the most controversial arguments is the type of technique used for measuring self control. Hirschi and Gottfredson (1993) prefer behavioral measures, like those used by Keane et al. (1993), to measure self control. This method, however, has tautological issues. The other technique is cognitive, or attitudinal, measures that tap into the six underlying dimensions of self analysis found that both self control measurement techniques were suitable predictors of delinquent and criminal offenses (see also Tittle et al. 2003 ) While questions may still ar ise, self control appears to be uni dimensional. Also, empirical findings suggest that self control is robustly related to criminal and analogous behavior regardless of how it is measured.


23 N EW SELF CONTROL THEORY Despite the success and recognition of se lf control theory it appears once again ( similar to the origins of social bonding theory) that Hirschi (2004) has become discontented with the psychology of delinquency and has shifted to a new conceptualization that removes the use of personality traits in the determination of the causes of delinquency S pecifically, he identified four criticisms about the conceptualization of self control as a personality construct and also how self control was being measured. 1. B oth suggest differences among offenders in mo tives for crime, contrary to explicit assumptions of the theory that offenders do not specialize and that motive s are irrelevant. 2. B oth contradict ( ) explicit assertion that personality traits have proved to be of little v alue in the explanation of crime. 3. B oth fail to explai n in a manner consistent with the theory how sel f control operates. Instead, both suggest that offenders act as they do because they are what they are ( impulsive, hot headed selfish physical ris k takers ), whereas nonoffenders are, well none of these. 4. As would be expected from item 3, and most telling, this exercise fails to produce a measure of self control in which more is better than less, in which the effects of the individual traits on cri minal behavior are


24 cumulative. Single traits predict criminal behavior as effective as does and all inclusive self control scale. (Hirschi, 2004, p.542). are unclear and remain somewhat confusing. Fo r instance, it is uncertain why the conceptualization and measurement is focused on motivation when elements of self control (e.g., impulsivity and i nsensitivity) are not motivating factors fo r delinquency. Also, Hirschi takes issue with the Grasmick et al (1993) scale stating that it fails to produce a cumulative me asure; however, it is unclear why higher scores on this measure fail to capture the idea that more self control i s better than less self control In addition to these four problems a nother m odification Hirschi (2004) has recommended refers to how the consequences of crime are conceptualized. Originally, he (and Gottfredson) suggested that long term consequences were important to consider. In his revised perspective, however, Hirschi now consi ders the full range of consequences of a particular act as the best measure of self control (p.542 543). By recognizing this, he returns to the assumption that self control involves some type of cognitive evaluation of competing interests, an idea that is central to control theories (Hirschi, 2004, p.542). With this new, more expansive consideration of consequences, individuals are expected to go back to the bonds found in social control theory, where the principal source of control is rn for the opinions of others (e.g., Do I care what X thinks of me?; Will X know what I have done?). This modification provides a more direct link between self control and and self c


25 In an effort to better capture this new conceptualiza tion, Hirschi places an importance on inhibitors stating that self Inhibitors are factors that prevent an individual from engaging in crime, and according to Hirschi (2004, p. 545), the key inhibitors are congruent with social bonds (attachment, commitment, ns such as parents, friends, teachers, and authorities of the law. In addition, he also emphasizes the number (and salience) of inhibitors and not simply the presence of any or all inhibitors as indicative degrees of self control. However Hirschi never r evisits the idea of salience in his own research. (This issue is further discussed below.) To accurately operationalize new self control, Hirschi recommends using bonds as inhibitors and counting them (dichotomized and summed ) mentioned above. Inhibitors influence decision making, specifically, the more inhibitors an individual possess es the more likely they will engage in a rational decision to not offend. In the following sections, the few studies that tested new self control are discussed further in depth. Empirical Status of New Self Control To examine the new conceptualization of self control, Hirschi (2004) used data from his Richmond, California Youth Project. He constructed a nine item dichot omized inhibitor scale (bonds) based on the notion that if the number of self reported inhibiting factors increased (i.e., self control increases), delinquency should decrease. In addition, the nine items are reflective of the bonds related to attachment ( parental and school) and


26 commitment (school). He suggested that the more bonded individuals are, the more inhibitions they have. control scale was correlated with a six item del inquency scale. In addition to the Richmond Youth Project, Hirschi also constructed a similar scale using seven of the nine items with a high school delinquency study in Fayetteville Arkansas. Based on his analysis, both sets of data supported his new con ceptualization of self control showing the increase of inhibitors (i.e., bonds) is negatively related to delinquency. Second, Hirschi examined how this new conceptualization is related to peer delinquency. Using the Richmond data, he found as the number of self reported inhibiting factors increased, the number of respondents reporting that one or more of their friends have been picked up by the police decreased. Third, using the Fayetteville sample, Hirschi correlated a nine item self control scale, a six i tem self reported delinquency scale, and an eleven item measure of acts analogous to crime. In this analysis, higher self control was negatively related to analogous acts, whereas the self reported delinquency scale was positively related to committing ana logous acts. Thus, all of Hirs his newly reconceptualized self control theory. In an attempt to measure new self control, Piquero and Bouffard (2007) pieced ation. In particular, they created a scale to examine the cognitive mechanism (cost times salience) that enters an Although Hirschi (2004) indicated that social bonds were the key inhibitors, they referred to the costs (times salience) as inhibitors, which is unclear whether that was what Hirschi was suggesting. Using a college sample,


27 they presented two hypothetical offending situations that included drunk driving and sexual coercion (only men were assessed on the latt er). After reading the imaginary situations, participants were asked to indicate their likelihood (from 0 100 percent) of driving home, and men were asked to note their likelihood of attempting to get a woman drunk in order to have sex with her. The averag e of these scenarios was used as the dependent variable. To opera tionalize control, offending behavior from each scenario. By using thi s method, they were able to measure the number of consequences an individual attends to before committing an act. In order to capture the dimension of salience participants were also asked how important (0 100 percent) each of the items were that they lis ted in making the decision on whether to commit the acts. To obtain relevance of the indiv the number of costs listed by the average salience across them In addition to the redefined self control measure, participants also completed the 24 item Grasmick et al. (1993) scale and eight item social bonding scale that measured their level of attachment, belief in the law, and religious commitment. Piquero an d Bouffard (2007) first examined the Grasmick et al. scale with the drun k driving and sexual coercion intentions. Next, they examined the ir new con ceptualization scale cost times salience. Finally, they included both measures of self control (Grasmick et al. scale and new self control scale) and social bonds to examine their independent effects. In comparing results with the Grasmick et al (1993) scale and social bonds (2004) newly conceptualized self control was a stronger predictor of drunk driving and


28 sexual c oercion. In addition, when including both measures of self control (Grasmick et al. scale and new self control scale) and social bonds they found the effect of the attitudinal measure and social bonds were non significant. In fact, the social bonds measur e was not even significant before the cost/salience measure was included. This suggests that that considered all costs associated with a criminal act (multiplied by the salience of these costs) provided be tter nal conception of self control and social bonds. a result of social bonds not having a significant effect, which are presum ably the primary inhibitors according to Hirschi (2004). Likewise, i n determining which measures of self control have an important role in understanding digital piracy, Higgins et al. (2008) utilized the Grasmick et al. (1993) scale, social bonds, and Piqu generated responses to measure the c ost and salience that purportedly 358 surveys collected from college students, their results varied. When all t hree measures were included in the model, they found that individuals with higher scores on the Grasmick scale, stronger bonds, and more inhibitions (greater cost times salience) were less likely to illegally download music. In addition, and contrary to Piquero and s, they found that the cost times salience variable and social bonds did not reduce the effect of the Grasmick et a l. (1993) scale. W hen examined together, this suggests that both measures of self control and social bonds independently and significantly in ether to perform digital piracy.


29 However similar to Piquero and Bouffard (2007) and arguably contrary to Hirschi (2004) they did not refer to social bonds as the primary inhibitors. onceptualization of new self control changed the inhibitors that influence cognitive appraisals That is, social bonds influence an on whether to commit criminal be havior. control has received some modest support, there are only two studies that have examined it and additional research is warranted. In addition, there are still many questions left to be answered that involve (1) what the primary inhibitors are and (2) how inhibitors have an Measurement and Conceptualization Issues Social bonding theory and self control theory are established frameworks; however, with the modest amount of resear onceptualization of inhibitors redefined self control disavows measuring the theory with personality traits and suggests that social bonds serve as the prima ry inhibitors. The bonds, in turn, influence the decision making process of whether to engage in a criminal act. By including inhibitors, self control now appears to place greater emphasis on decision making. With this change, self ization seems to implicate that rational ch oice models are also necessary. Accordin g to Piquero and Bouffard there seems to be a logical control using inhibitors and rational decision making. This is not the first time self control has been connected with other theoretical frameworks. Recall, that Pratt and Cullen (2000) found self control is not the


30 only predictor of delinquent and criminal behavior. Studies have integrated rational choice models with sel f control in an effort to provide a more general model that explains offending (Nagin & Paternoster, 1993; Piquero and Tibbetts, 1996 ; Sellers, 1999 ). In addition, studies have also found that social bond variables mediate the relationship between self con trol and delinquency (Wright et al. 1999; Longshore et al. 2004; Longshore et al. 2005). With newer transformations of self control theory, only a few studies (Piquero and Bouffard 2007; Higgins et al. 2008) have examined the cognitive me chanisms (cost ti mes salience) and may have inaccurately c oncept ualized the role of bonds as being the primary inhibitors newest conceptualization has been fully tested. Additional research is needed that accurate ly compares control have been traditionally con ceptualized. In addition, the cognitive decision making model control appears to overlap w ith rat ional choice models, especially deterrence theory Therefore, a more robust test is needed that includes elements of cognition to inhibitors (bonds) and traditional self control are mediated by d eterrence/ rational choice measures C U R R E N T F O C U S Given the se issues the current study is an attempt t o clarify and expand upon the scant literature on this topic. First, a more appropriate inhibitor scale is created using social bonds to accurately examine the i (2004) new conceptualization has with traditional social bonding and self control scales. Second, and


31 unlike previous literature, this study will be the first to include and me asure constructs from rational choice theory, with a focus on how (if at all) it is relat conceptualization Lastly, and also unlike previous literature, this study will utilize a delinquency scale (as opposed to hypothetical scenarios) in order to measure the impact that inhibitors have on various criminal activities


32 CHAPTER 3 METHODS SAMPLE The current study and analyses are based on a self report survey administered to students attending one middle school and one high s chool in Largo, Florida in the Fall of 19 98. A questionnaire was designed that used Likert type scales to gather an array of information from the participants Involvement was voluntary and required passive consent a nd handicapped classes were surveyed and allowed to participate Before the survey was given students were informed that their responses were confidential and anonymous. In the high school (grades 9 12), the survey was administered to 30 randomly select ed classes dur ing the third period. This course period was selected because the ma jority of students were in class at this time. With the help from a member of the research team assigned to each class, s tudents completed the questionnaires. Of the 796 elig ible stude nts in the 30 random classes, 62 5 surveys were useable resulting in a res ponse rate of 79 percent. In the middle school sample (grades 6 8), a slightly different approach was required. With So cial Studies classes required for all middle school students, t he survey was administered during the 45 Social Studies classes among the three grades. Using two researche r s for each class to aid the students, the procedure took three days. Of the 1,2 66


33 middle school students enrolled 1,050 surveys wer e use able producing a response rate of 83 percent. The total sample size from both middle and high sch ools was 1,675 students, with 3 7 3 percent of the students from the high school (N = 625) and 6 2 7 percent from the middle school (N = 1,050 ). Age of the sa mple ranged from 11 to 19 (mean = 13.79, sd = 1.96) years old, and the re were slightly more males (N = 835, 50.2% ) In addition, the majority of the students were white (77.2%) foll owed by black (11.6%), Hispanic (4.1%), Asian (3.2%), and other (3.9%). De scriptives for the remainder of the key study variables used in the analyses can be found in T able 1. In the measures section t he variables are de scribed further in depth P o w e r A n a l y s e s A p ower analysis wa s conducted to ensure there was sufficient powe r to observe real effects with the sample size (N=1675) According to Cohen ( 1988; 1992), at an alpha of 0.05 and using six independent variabl es, the necessary minimum number of par ticipants required (for power = 0.80) to detect a small effect size is 686 ( 1998, p. 158, table 2) Based on these estimates, the current study has enough statistical power in order to perform the analyses d iscussed below


34 Table 1: Descriptive Statistics of All Variables. Variables Mean SD Skew SE (skew) Range Age Sex ( 1=male) Race (1=white) Traditional SB Scale Bonds (inhibitors ) Self Control Cognitive Scale Delinquency Scale 13.79 0.50 1.45 0.01 6.85 0.02 9.97 5.35 1.99 0.50 1.00 4.80 1.71 6.30 2.46 3.62 0.42 0.10 2.42 0.51 0.94 0.05 1.68 0.74 0.06 0.06 0.06 0.06 0.06 0.06 0.06 0.06 11 19 0 1 1 5 19.57 9.09 0 9 18.87 17.58 4 12 0 17 Note: Sample size (N) range s from 1443 to 1662 due to missing data. MEASURES Dependent Variable The dependent variable was a delinque ncy scale, which contained seventeen criminal an d analogous behaviors ( = 0.85) Students were asked whether they have ever engaged in the following behaviors: (1) damaged or destroyed (2) stole an item worth 50 dollars or less ( stole backpack under 50 doll ars and stole other things under 50 dollars were combined) (3) lied (lied to parent, to teacher, and to get somethi ng were all combined), (4) skipped cl ass without an excuse, (5) stayed ou t longer than allowed, (6) run away from home, (7) stole any thing ov er 50 dollars, (8) used a weapon or force to get money o r things, (9) hit someone to hurt them, (10) attacked someone with a weapon, (11) carried a w eapon for protection, (12) burglarized ( tried or gone into a ho use to steal something and tried or gone int o a building to steal some thing were combined), (13) tried or stolen a car or motorcycle, (14) u sed tobacco products, (15) used alcohol, (16) used marijuana, and (17) used other illegal drugs. The original coding (0 = no, 1 = yes, over a year ago, and 2 = yes within the past


35 12 mo nths) was dichotomized into 0 if the student never committed the act, and 1 if the student did commit the act. Next the seventeen items were added together to obtain a delinquency scale (0 to 17) The mean number of acts committed was 5.35 with a standard deviation of 3.62 Independent Variables Self Control Eleven items, including both attitudinal and behavioral items comprise d the low self control scale E ight attitudinal items similar to components fo und on the Grasmick et al. (1993) scale were include d : (1) take risk for fun of it, (2) like to test self by doing something risky, (3), act on spur of the moment without thinking, (4) do what is pleasurable now at cost, (5) I do not feel bad for others wi th problem, (6) if things upset people, it is their problem, (7) I lose my temper easily, and (8) when I am mad, people better stay away. The variables are coded on a Likert style response scale (1 = strongly agree, 2 = agree, 3 = disagree, 4 = strongly di sagree) and s everal variables were reversed coded to ensure consistency in the direction of measurement. In addition to the attitudinal measures, three behavioral measu res were also used : (1) more likely to confront or avoid classmate, (2) more likely to t ease or be friends with someone, and (3) more likely to hit or talk when mad. These were operationalized different ly than the attitudinal self control measures ( a six point scale; e.g ., 1 = more likely to confront, 6 = more likely to avoid). Due to the att itudinal and behavioral measures having different metrics the z score for each item was computed, and these standardized scores were summed to create the low self control scale The range of the


36 standardized scale was 18.87 to 17.58 with a mean of 0.02 ( sd = 6.30 ) ; larger values indicated higher self control Inhibitors ( Social Bonds ) S imilar to Hirschi (2004), social bonds were used in this study as a measure of inhibitors for the new conceptualization of self control As noted above, Hirschi operation alized new self control by going back to the bonds where he suggested that the more bonded an individual was the more inhibitors the individual possessed. In order to create a comparable measure a total of nine maternal attachment and school c ommitment v ariables we re used 0.77) These include five maternal attachment their mother (t he se variables are coded on a six point semantic differential scal e ; e.g., 1 = able to talk with mother, 6 = not able to talk with mother) Values one through three on this while values four through six were the remaining maternal attachment variables included (4) mother knows whereabouts, and (5) mother knows who you are with (originally coded on a four point Likert scale; e.g., 1 = strongly dis agree, 2 = dis agree, 3 = agree, 4 = strongly agree) were also re coded Values three and four were specify not an inhibitor. In addition, the four school commitment variables include: (1) importance of getting good grades in school, (2) importance of getting respect from teachers, (3) homework is a waste of time, and (4) I try hard in school. Th e school commitment variables were coded on a four point Likert style response scale. However, they were also recoded to ensur e consistency with the maternal attachment


37 variables. Several variables were also reversed coded to ensure consistency in the direction measured. Social bonds were operationalized in two different ways. First, the measures were dichotomiz ed (0 = not an in hibitor ; 1 = inhibitor) and combined together (range : 0 to 9; mean = 6.85; sd = 1.71) in order to create a social bonding (inhibitor) scale comparable to Hirschi ( 2004 ) In this scale, higher values indicate more inhibitors. In addition to this scale ano ther social bonding scale (not dichotomized) was created that used the same items That is, the same bonding items were used to create a measure of social bonding consistent with previous conceptualizations. The only difference between the new and traditio nal bonding scales was the manner in which the items were coded either dichotomously (new bonding) or continuously (traditional bonding). S imilar to items comprising the self control scale the traditional scale used z scores due to the measures having different metrics T he range of the standardized scale was 19.57 to 9.09 with a mean of 0.01 (sd = 4.80 ) ; higher values indicate stronger bonds Costs (Cognitive S cale ) As noted above, Hirschi (2004) proposed a cognitive decision making model that ove rlaps with rational choice models, like deterrence theory. In order to fully illustrate ined concept of self control, rational choice measures are used to capture the calculation of costs Four variables which assessed both costs and salien ce measure d how big of a problem it would be for the respondent if caught committing specific acts The following acts were include d : (1) ski pping school (2) stealing, (3) hitting someone and (4) using marijuana. These variables were coded the following: 0 = no problem at all, 1 = small problem, 2 = medium problem, and 3 = big problem. They were combined into


38 a scale ( range = 0 to 12 ; mean = 9.97, sd = 2.46 ) in which higher values indicated a bigger problem if caught carrying out these acts. In addition, the indicate s adequate leve ls of internal consistency (0.76 ). Control Variables The major control measures for this study are gender race and age Specifically, g ender is a dichotomous variable and is coded 0 = fe male and 1 = male. Ra ce was dichotomized for the purposes of this study and is coded 0 = white and 1 = non white. R E S E A R C H Q U E S T I O N S /H Y P O T H E S E S Based on a n extensive review of the literature and theories (earlier control theories, social bonding, self control, and new self c ontrol) the following research questions and hypotheses highlight the major areas of examination Research question 1: Is of self control ( dichotomized bonds) r elate d to delinquency? Research question 2 : Do es the original conceptualization of self control ( personality and behavioral ) demonstrate a unique effect on delinquency above and beyond the new conceptualization? Research question 3 : Is there evidence that either t he new conceptualization or traditiona l conceptualization of self control operates through the cogn itive scale (rational calculation of costs )? Research question 4 : Is this new conceptualization (dichotomized) substantively d ifferent from the traditional way we have conceptua lized bonds?


39 Hypothesis 1: Based on Hirschi (2004), it is expected that the new conceptualization (dichotomized bonds) will be significantly related to the delinquency scale. Hypothesi s 2 : Based on Higgins et al. (2008) it is predicted that the traditio nal conceptualization of self control will demonstrate a unique effect on delinquency net of the new conceptualization of bonds However, based on previous literature (Piquero and Bouffard, 2007; Higgins et al. 2008), the traditional conceptualization of self control is not expected to have stronger effects than the new conceptualization. Hypothesis 3 : Based on Hirschi (2004), it is noted that control theories involve an element of cognitive evaluation. Therefore, it is expected that both the new ( dichoto mized bonds) and traditional conceptualization of self control will be m ediated by the cognitive scale (rational calculation of costs ) and reduce the effect of the i ndependent variables (bonds and self control) to non significance Hy pothesis 4 : Although t here exists no empirical data on this issue yet, the new conceptualization will not be substantively different from a traditional social bonding scale due to the similarities and replication of measures found in both scales.


40 ANALYTIC PLAN In the analyt ic proce ss, three types of analyses were performed. First, descriptive statistics of the independent, depen den t, and control variables were computed. Percentages were presented for dichotomized variables, and m eans and standard deviations were used for ord inal and interval variables. Next, bivariate correlations were performed to examine how age and the theoretical measures (self con trol, inhibitors traditional bonds and costs ) were related to the delinquency scale. Lastly, a series of ordinary least squar es (OLS) regression model s were constructed to test the eff ects of the key study variables on the delinquency scale while controlling for age, race, and sex In order to successfully examine the research questions the key study variables were added and re moved (in steps) to test the ir unique, independent effects In order to ensure that all assumptions of linear regression were met, key model assumptions were checked. Small issues of heteroskedasticity and normality of residuals were detected, but these do not appear to be a problem given that the sample size is 1675 students (McClendon, 2002). In addition, an issue with the variables. T here were no issues of multicollinearity with the independent variables in the mediation model. However, multicollinearity between the traditional social bond s cale and new social bond scale (inhibitors) was present This was expected due to the similarities of items used in both scales. As a res ult, no regression analysis included both traditional bonds and inhibitors in the same model. After examining all key assumptions, OLS regression seems appropriate for the analysis. Thus, there were a total of ten models.


41 In order to test for mediation, B aron and Kenny (1986) suggest estima ting four regression equations: first, a relationship between the exogenous (predictor) variables and endogenous (mediator) variables ; second, a relationship between the exogenous and dependent variable; third, a relatio nship between the endogenous variables and dependent variable; and fourth, the significant relationship between the exogenous and dependent variables is rendered non significant after the inclusion of the endogenous (mediator) variables (see Figure 1) To assess these relations hips, a series of models were constructed. In the first set of models, the endogeno us variables were regressed on the exogenous variable That is, the costs were independently regressed onto self control and inhibitors (bonds) Next, the second set of models expl ore d the exogenous and dependent variables. This include d measuring the relationship between the inhibitors and delinquency and also between self control and delinquency In the third set of models, the e ndo genou s and dependen t variables were ex amined. This consist ed of measuring the relationship between the costs and the delinquency scale. Next the fourth set of models include d both the e x ogenous variables and e ndo genous variables with the delinquency scale. This consisted of measuring the inhibitors, costs and delinquency scale together, and also the sel f control scale, costs and delinquency scale together. Last, delinquency was regressed onto each of the exogenous variables, along with the endogenous variable t o examine t he relationship when all the measures were included into one model In addition to testing for mediat ion, additional models were also used to test the independent effects between the new conceptualization of bonds and a traditional bonding s cale, and also between the new conceptualization and self control By following thi s a nalytic process, results were recorded for all the re search questions


42 Figure 1: Mediation Model of Key Study Variables Note. A dashed line represents a possible insignif icant relationship if the mediator works. Note: Sample size (N) ranges from 1443 to 1662 due to missing data. Independent Variables (Inhibitors/Self control) ))scale) Mediating Variab le (Costs) Dependent Variable (Delinquency Scale)


43 C H A P T E R 4 R E S U L T S B I V A R I A T E F I N D I N G S Independent sample t tests were performed in order to examine the relationship betwee n the nominal level variables of sex, race, and the delin quency scale (not shown in tabular form ). Males commit more delinquent acts than females on average (t value = 6.34, mean = 5.78 and 4.94 respectively at p < 0.001). Additionally, results from the in dependent t tests showed no significant relationship between race and the number of delinquent acts committed. Table 2 illustrates the bivariate relationships among the ke y theoretical variables and delinquency All of the correlations were significantly related to delinquency in the expected directions (the full correlation matrix is located in Appendix A) Age has a moderate and positive relationship with the delinquency scale (r = 0.25, p < 0. 01). This suggests that a s an number of delinquent acts committed also increase s The traditional social bonding scale (r = 0.51), inhibitors (r = 0.49), self control (r = 0.59), and costs (r = 0.53) were all strongly and negatively related with delinquency at p < 0.01. Therefore, indiv iduals who have weak bonds, fewer inhibitors, lower le vels of self control, and who perceived lower costs were significantly more likely to commit delinquent acts.


44 Table 2: Bivariate Correlations with Key Study Variables Variables Delinquency Age Traditional SB Scale I nhibitors (Bonds) Self Control C osts 0.25* 0.51* 0.49* 0.59* 0.53* p < 0.01. Note: Sample size (N) range s from 1443 to 1662 due to missing data. M U L T I V A R I A T E F I N D I N G S The results from the ordinary least squa res (OLS) regression analyses are presented in T able s 3 through 5 Overall, all the models were statistically significant (p < 0.001), which suggests that one or more of the covariates included in the model has a si gnifican t relationship with delinquency. In models 1 and 2 ( Table 3 ), the first step of mediation wa s tested by examining the effects of bonds ( inhibitors ) and self control on the costs (used as a dependent variable). Model 1 and model 2 indicate that both inhibitors (bonds) and self control ha d a positive significant relat ionship with the perceived costs at p < 0. 0 01. This indicates individuals with more inhibitors and h igher levels of self control were more likely to perceive greater costs of engaging in delinquency (b = 0.49 and 0.16, respect ively) In addition the standardized coefficients suggests that the association between the inhibitors and self co ntrol with the costs w ere mod erately strong in magnitude 0.42, respectively).


45 Table 3 : Regression Models of Key Independen t Variables with Costs Variables Model 1 Model 2 Age Sex Race I nhibitors (Bonds ) Self Control Adj. R 0.13** 0.03 0.11 0.72** 0.12 0.15 0.05 0.06 0.02 0.49 ** 0.04 0.35 0.18** 0.16** 0.03 0.13 0.46** 0.12 0.09 0.04 0.06 0.02 0.16 ** 0.01 0.42 0.22** **p < 0.001 Note: Sam ple size (N) range s from 1443 to 1662 due to missing data. In the second step of mediation, according to Baron and K enny (1986), there needs to be a relationship between the key independent variables and the dependent variable. In models 1 and 2 (Table 4 ) both the inhibitors and self control had a negative significant relationsh ip with the delinquency scale ( p < 0.001 ) This illustrates that individual s with fewer bonds and lower self control were more susceptible to delinquency Further the standardize d coefficients imply that the relationships between the se independent variabl es and delinquency were strong ( inhibitors, 0.47 ; self control, 0.58 ). new conceptualization (inhibitors) i s significantly related to delinquency. Ne xt, the independent variables were removed and costs were included to exam ine the third step of mediation (not shown in tabular form ) The mediator (costs) was negative ly and significant ly related to the delinquency scale, indi cating that individuals who perceive d fewer costs were more delinquent (b = 0.75, se = 0.03 p < 0.001 ). In addition, the standardized coefficient suggest that the rela tionship between costs and delinquency 0.51).


46 In mo del 3 (T able 4), the mediator was remove d and both the inhibitors and self control were added to examine whether the original conceptualization of self control demonstrate d a unique effect on delinquency above and beyond the ne w conceptualization (inhibitors) Similar to models 1 and 2 (in T able 4), both the inhibitors and self cont rol were negatively and significantly related to delinquency (b = 0.56 and 0.26, respectively, at p < 0.001). In addition, when both inhibitors and self control were included in the same model, their effect sizes were reduced (43 and 21 percent respectively ) This indicates that inhibitors and self control are related to each other, and have some share d variance Also the standardiz ed coefficien ts illustrate s that self control had a s tronger effect than the inhibitors on delin quency 0 .46 and 0.27, respectively). Similar to previous literature (Higgins et al. 2008) and consistent with the second hypothesis the old and new conceptualization did demonstrate unique ef fects with delinquency In addition, but co ntrary to the second hypothesis the original conce ptualization of self control had stronger effects than the new conceptualization of inhibitors when examini ng them together in the same model. Table 4: OLS Regression Models with Key Study Variables. Variables Model 1 b SE Model 2 b SE Model 3 b SE Age Sex Race In hibitors (Bonds ) Self Control Costs Adj. R 0.30** 0.04 0.17 0.47* 0.17 0.07 0.07 0.09 0.02 0.97** 0.05 0.47 0.28** 0.38** 0.04 0.21 0.18 0.15 0.03 0.04 0.08 0.01 0.33** 0.01 0.58 0.39** 0.31** 0.04 0.17 0.10 0.15 0.02 0.04 0.08 0.01 0.56** 0.05 0.27 0.26** 0 .01 0.46 0.44** *p < 0.05. **p < 0.001. Note: Sample size (N) ranges from 1443 to 1662 due to missing data.


47 In models 1 through 3 (T able 5 ), the effects of including the mediat or were examined. A ccording to Baron and Kenny (1986), t he relationship between the independent variables and dependent variable should become non significant after the inclusion of the mediator if mediation is occurring First ( model s 1 and 2 ; T able 5 ), the independent variables were examined individually with the mediator. In model 1 (Table 5 ), both the inhibitors and costs remained negatively and significantly related to delinquency (b = 0.70 and 0.59, respectively, at p < 0.001). However, t he effect size of the inhibitors was reduce d 30 percent from stron 0.47, model 1, Table 4) to modera 0.33, mo del 1, Table 5). This suggests partial mediation occurred through the perceived costs S imilar results were also found when examining self control and the mediator in model 2 (Table 5 ). Both self c ontro l and costs remained negatively and significantly related to delinquency (b = 0.25 and 0.50, respectively, at p < 0.001). However, the effect size of self control 0.45, model 2, Table 5), dropping a mode ra te 22 percent. This also suggests that the effect of self control on delinquency is partially mediated through the perceived costs. Although mediation is present in these models, it i s also important to examine the independent variables simultaneously with the mediator This will more accurately characterize the relationships and demonstrate the impact of the mediator when all key variables are examined in the same model. Next, i n mo del 3 (T able 5 ), both the inhibitors and self control were included in th e same model and examined simultaneously with the mediator Similar to results found in model s 1 and 2 (Table 5 ) inhibitors self control and co sts remained negatively a nd significantly related to delinquency (b = 0.43, 0.21, and 0.43, respectively, a t p <


48 0.001). The st andardized coefficients suggest that both the inhibitors and self control had moderate effects on delinquency 0.21 and 0.38, respectively). Conversely similar to model 3 (Table 4), the effect sizes for inhibitors and self control had a moderate reduction (22 and 17 percent, respectively) after the inclusion of the media tor Although t his suggests that inhibitors and self control are slightly mediated by the costs the reduced effect size in inhibitors was also influenced by the inclusion of s elf control (model 3, Table 4) Contrary to the third hypothesis, neither the in hibitors nor self control were fully m ediated by the costs suggesting that control theories (as operationalized here) do not exert their influence entirely through an element of cognitive evaluation as Hirschi (2004) stated. Table 5: OLS Regression Model s Examining t he Effects of Mediation Variables Model 1 b SE Model 2 b SE Model 3 b SE Age Sex Race I nhibitors (Bonds ) Self Control Costs Adj. R 0.23** 0.04 0.13 0.03 0.15 0.01 0.04 0.08 0.01 0 .70** 0.05 0.33 0.59** 0.04 0.39 0.40** 0.30** 0.04 0.16 0.43* 0.14 0.06 0.03 0.07 0.01 0.25** 0.01 0.45 0.50** 0.03 0. 33 0.48** 0.26** 0.04 0.14 0.34* 0.14 0.05 0.0 2 0.07 0.01 0.43** 0.05 0.21 0.21** 0.01 0.38 0.43** 0.03 0.28 0.50** *p < 0.05. **p < 0.001. Note: Sample size (N) ranges from 1 443 to 1662 due to missing data. Lastly OLS regression model s (not shown in table) were used to examine whether new conceptualization of bonds ( inhibitors) is substantively different from a traditional bonding scale. As noted earl ier, there was a problem with multicollinearity between the traditional bonding scale and inhibitor bonding scale (VIF s = 4.89 and 4.33, respectively). As such, both measures could not be simultaneously examined within one model. Therefore, each conceptual ization was assessed


49 independently, and their effect sizes were compared. In the ir respective model s both the traditional bonding scale and inhibitor scale were negatively and significantly related with the delinquency scale (b = 0.39 and 0.97, respecti vely) at p < 0.001 In addition, the standardized coefficients illustrate th at the traditional bonds had slightly stronger effects on delinquency than the new conceptualized bond s 0.52 and 0.47, respectively). Although quite similar, the traditional bonding scale may have proved to be somewhat stronger because there was more variation in this measure compared to the inhibitor scale (which was based on dichotomous items). Howe ver, the difference i n effect size is modest supporting the last hypot hesis that these scales are not substantively different


50 C H A P T E R 5 D I S C U S S I O N A N D C O N C L U S I O N S c ontrol scale using inhibitors (bonds), and expand upon the modest amount of previous literature (Piquero and Bouffard, 2007; Higgins et al. 2008) on this subject. This was done to ependent from self control and also whether there was a substantial difference between the new conceptualization of inhibitors and traditional measures of bonds. In addition, Hirschi (2004) stated that control theories require an element of cognitive evalu ation; therefore, this study also examined whether elements of cognition in the form of perceived costs, mediated the effects of both the new conceptualization of inhibitors and self control. Specifically, four hypotheses were examined (see pp. 38 39). To examine this new conceptualization, data from a survey of 1675 middle sch ool and high school students were conceptualization were supported, while others were not. First, the results in dicated that the new conceptualization of inhibitors (dichotomized bonds) was positively and significantly related to delinquency in the predicted direction consistent with the first hypothesis. This result was expected due to the support found in Hirschi (2004), in which he used both parental attachment and school commitment bonds. In addition, this result was consistent with previous literature that has examined the relationship between attachment and commitment with various


51 delinquent and analogous beha viors (Conger, 1976; Junger Tas, 1992; Durkin et al., 1999; Durkin et al., 2007; Krohn et al., 1983). new conceptualization of inhibitors had an independent effect, net of self control. However, when both variables were included in the same model, their effect sizes were reduced. The effect of self control was reduced by 21 percent, while the effect of inhibitors was reduc ed by 43 percent. This suggests that both inhibitors and s elf control have shared variance, even though they had independent effects. Similar to previous literature, this finding is consistent in that social bonds and self control account for unique variance in delinquent outcomes (Wright et al. 1999; Longshore e t a l. 2004). In addition, but contrary to the second hypothesis and previous literature (Piquero and Bouffard, 2007; Higgins et al. 2008), self control had stronger effects on delinquency than the new conceptualization of bonds. However, this study concept ualized inhibitors differently than those studi es. Whereas new c onstruct (which he labeled as inhibitors), other studies operationalized inhibitors as the perceived costs (multiplied by their salience). I t is unclear why these previous studies operationalized inhibitors differently, although it does appear that their include a measure of social bonds (although not label ed as inhibitors), and in both occurrences the authors found bonds exerted weaker effects than personality based measures of self control. In that regard, the current findings are in accord with their efforts.


52 Contrary to the third hypothesis, both inhibit ors and self control were not fully mediated by the rational costs that an individual perceives to be associated with delinquency. In addition, and also in contrast to Hirschi (2004), this suggests that control theories do not require an element of cogniti ve evaluation. This result is consistent with previous literature, which examined the perception of rational costs associated with control or bonds (Tittle and Botchkovar, 2005 ; Wright et al. 2004). It should be noted, however, that costs may o nly contribute partially to the explanation Rewards may also play a role. However, control theories assume motivation is constant; therefore, any mediating effect of rewards may be incomp atible with the underlying assumptions that are held by control theories. In addition, the relatively weak mediation observed in the present study may be attributable to the fact that the scale consisted of only four items. Hirschi (2004) emphasized the si gnificance of the full range of costs, and the current measure may have not tapped into this completely. Perhaps, a scale that captures a fuller range of costs an individual might perceive before comm itting a delinquent act would more fully mediate the inf luences of inhibitors and self control on delinquency The last hypothesis was supported, which examined whether the new conceptualization of inhibitors (bonds) was substantively different from a traditional bonding scale. Although traditional bonds were somewhat stronger, the differences in the effect sizes were quite modest. Perha ps the slightly stronger effect found in the traditional bonds was due to this scale having more variation in the measures than the new conceptualization of inhibitors (bonds), which was based on dichotomous items. Perhaps if this study utilized only the extreme values when dichotomizing the inhibitors, a more


53 pronounced difference between this new conceptualization and the traditional conceptualization of bonds may have been ca ptured. However, this was not employed in the current analysis because it would have reduced both the sample size and power. In addition, the problem of multicollinearity between the traditional bonds and inhibitors (dichotomized bonds) suggests that these two scales are essentially the same. The new conceptualization of inhibitors (bonds) works well in explaining delinquency; however, it is neither better nor different from the way bonds have been conceptualized for decades. Although Hirschi (2004) suggest s this new conceptualization is something substantively different from social bonding theory (Hirschi, 1969), the current results suggest otherwise. Also, if this new conceptualization is to play any meaningful role in future research, it is important for Hirschi to better explain why operationalizing bonds dichotomously enhances the theoretical construct. Overall, the results indicate d that related to delinquency. However, there is no support that dichotomiz ing bonds is unique and/or a better measure than self control and a traditional bonding scale. In addition, the results also suggest that both inhibitors and self control are modestly mediated by a cog nitive process, indicating their effects do not operate primarily through rational decision making. As such, it remains unclear whether the new conceptualization contributes substantially to control theories. Despite the interesting and informative findings generated from the current investigation, this study is not without limitations. First, not all variables from each theoretical construct were fully measured in this study. The Grasmick et al. (1993) scale was not used in its entirety. Of the 24 items found in the Grasmick et al. scale, only eight


54 measures were utilized. In addition, each elemen t of the social bond was not ass essed. In his reanalysis, Hirschi (2004) focused on attachment (to parents) and commitment (to school). Because the goal of the present study was to replicate his scale accurately, only these elements of the social bond were examined. Finally, there are issues with the generalizability of the results. The sample used in the analyses represents only middle school and high school students from specific schools in Largo, Florida. Consequen tly, there is no guarantee that the results observed in this study would also be found in other studies. In addition, when using a convenience sample, representativeness is compromised. The refore, a nationally representative sample would be more appropriat e. Lastly, when working with cross sectional data, causality cannot be determined. As such, the current findings should be interpreted with a degree of caution. The present study has implications for future research. If replicating this study, it is impo rtant to capture all dimensions of each theoretical construct in their entir ety. This includes using all 24 items from the Grasmick et al. (1993) scale. Also, future research should consider the inclusion of all the elements of the social bond to create th e inhibitor scale. In addition, future research may also want to use different types of samples. Previous studies (Piquero and Bouffard, 2007; Higgins et al. 2008) used college samples con ceptualization. Further, it is also recommended to use a sample that represents an entire population. By doing this, both issues of generalizability and having a biased sample can be avoided. Last ly there needs to be more exploration between the relations hip of perceived costs in an individual and both inhibitors and self control. By


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64 A P P E N D I C E S


65 A P P E N D I X A : C O R R E L A T I O N M A T R I X O F A L L K E Y V A R I A B L E S Table 6: Correlation Matrix of All Key Variable s. *p < 0.05. **p < 0.01. Note: Sample size (N) ranges from 1 416 to 1662 due to missing data. Variables Age Race Sex Costs Self Control Inhibitors Traditional Bonds Age Race 0.04 Sex 0.04 0.02 Costs 0.16** 0.00 0.20** Self Control 0.06* 0.01 0.24** 0.45** Inhibitors 0.16** 0.01 0.14** 0.39** 0.45** Traditional Bonds 0.20** 0.01 0.16** 0.45** 0.51** 0.87** Delinquency 0.25** 0.00 0.12** 0.53** 0.59** 0.49** 0.55**