AuthorZager, Mary Ann.
Committee ChairHirschi, Travis
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractGottfredson and Hirschi's A General Theory of Crime (1990) motivated much research on the concept of self-control and its relationship to crime, delinquency, and deviant behavior. Although researchers are aware of this theory's contribution to criminological research, some confusion about the exact nature of the relationship between self-control and criminal behavior (as specified by Gottfredson and Hirschi) remains. To clarify this relationship, the assumptions most vital to the theory are explained. One theorem derived from these assumptions regards the role of opportunity in deviant behavior. Gottfredson and Hirschi clearly posit opportunity as a necessary but not sufficient condition for criminal (and analogous non-criminal) behavior to occur. The precise role of opportunity in self-control theory, however, is somewhat unclear in Gottfredson and Hirschi's work. The present work clarifies this element of opportunity, searches for a measure of self-control that is opportunity free, and addresses the relationship between this type of measure and delinquent behavior using data from the National Youth Survey. The role of opportunity in this theory is clarified using gender differences in delinquent behavior as a tool for separating the components of opportunity. Using gender differences in several delinquent behaviors, the existence of the two components of opportunity (one inherent in the act and one inherent in the actor) is confirmed. After establishing these elements of opportunity, gender differences are used to facilitate the search for a measure of self-control that is distinct from both. This attitudinal measure raises the issue of the role of attitudes in Gottfredson and Hirschi's theory. The final analysis focuses on the relationships between attitudes (both children's and parent's) and children's delinquent behavior. Log-linear models are used to specify the structures of these relationships, which are complimentary to Gottfredson and Hirschi's assumptions regarding social norms, parental influence on children's value systems, and an individual's ability to engage in behaviors that they realize are inappropriate.