Proposing a link between perceived opportunity and levels of self-control
AuthorCampie, Patricia E.
KeywordsSociology, Theory and Methods.
Political Science, Public Administration.
Sociology, Criminology and Penology.
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.
AbstractMost crime prevention practices assume offenders will desist from crime if the opportunity to offend is made more difficult. In practice, this means more alarms and guards, and higher awareness about protecting yourself from crime. The legal costs of offending have become greater as punishments have become more punitive. A rational choice theory of crime predicts that individuals weigh costs and benefits of crime to maximize their own self-interest. When the costs outweigh the benefits of crime, the individual will not offend. In spite of this prevention approach, crime continues. Where rational choice explains why offenders desist from crime, self-control explains the individual's ability to engage in that decisionmaking process. Low self-control is characterized by being impulsive, risk-seeking, self-interested, physical, temperamental, and lazy. Singly and combined, these tendencies are more likely to create behavior that neglects future consequences in favor of current satisfaction. Where rational choice and self-control theories are similar is in using opportunity as a gateway for criminal conduct. Both see opportunity as an objective feature of the environment. The current work questions this assumption. Instead, it is hypothesized that perceptions of opportunity are subjective, tending to vary according to a person's level of self-control. An experiment was done with 132 students on computers, where opportunities to earn money in 1.00 increments were encountered over a five-step process. The maximum payoff was 5.00. Tasks became more frustrating at each step, though no task would be considered "difficult". Those with low self-control were expected to lack persistence toward the 5.00 goal, taking the easier, smaller, payoff earlier in the process. At the experimental prompt, subjects were told they could proceed to the 5.00 payoff, but would have to give back 1.00 to classmates unable to attend. Those in the control group were told they could continue for
Degree ProgramGraduate College