The ontogenesis of the delinquent personality: A preliminary test of a comprehensive theory
AuthorWiebe, Richard Porter, 1956-
AdvisorFigueredo, Aurelio Jose
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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.
AbstractA comprehensive theory of the ontogenesis of the delinquent personality is presented and supported by self-report data from a sample of American adolescents. The theory postulates that socialization requires the development of two complementary faculties: the ability to engage in prosocial behavior in the face of adversity (diligence) and the ability to avoid antisocial behavior despite temptation (self-control). Innate traits are thought to interact with particular experiences to create the mature personality. During development, a lack of diligence can inhibit the development of self-control, and can facilitate the development of a characteristic set of attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors associated with delinquency, including the willingness to deceive and manipulate others, a callous disregard for their feelings, attitudes and beliefs justifying a lack of diligence and a continuation of antisocial behaviors, and short-term mating activity. The characteristic personality of the delinquent, then, is both low in diligence and high in antisociality. This contrasts with the conceptions of control theory, which subsumes diligence within the construct of self-control. The delinquent personality itself facilitates an adaptive strategy, or approach to life, that involves short-term mating and deception. Two kinds of deception related to delinquency are distinguished: overt deception and deception based on unpredictability. A cross-sectional version of this model was tested with data from 1139 adolescents from a medium-sized city in the Southeastern United States, and found to explain 58% of the variance in self-reported delinquency. Within a confirmatory structural equation model, the constructs thought to comprise factors relating to prosociality, antisociality, and social bonds loaded as expected. Each of these constructs significantly correlated with delinquency on their own. A longitudinal study will be necessary to test the full model, and a behavior genetics design will be necessary to determine the extent to which the constructs deemed important to this theory may be subject to environmental influences.
Degree ProgramGraduate College