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Apple Doesn't Fall Far From the Tree (or Does It?): Intergenerational Patterns of Antisocial Behavior--The American Society of Criminology 2008 Sutherland Address

NCJ Number
Criminology Volume: 47 Issue: 2 Dated: May 2009 Pages: 297-326
Terence P. Thornberry
Date Published
May 2009
30 pages
fter proposing a set of defining design elements that all intergenerational studies should meet, this paper discusses the benefits of these studies for enhancing the understanding of the onset and course of delinquent careers; data from the ongoing Rochester Intergenerational Study are used to illustrate the design elements and the potential benefits of intergenerational studies.
Intergenerational studies of antisocial behavior should meet four design criteria. First, they should have prospective data on a "Generation 2" (G2) parent's antisocial behavior and on a "Generation 3" (G3) child's antisocial behavior. Second, the measures of each generation's involvement in antisocial behavior should be as independent as possible; and whenever possible, it should be based on different reporters. The third design criterion is the key defining element of an intergenerational study; it most clearly separates intergenerational studies from traditional longitudinal studies of behavior. It requires that intergenerational studies have comparables measures of G2 and G3 antisocial behavior that cover the same ages or the same developmental stages. Fourth, intergenerational studies should have prospective data on G2 life-course development, in order to identify mediating processes that account for both intergenerational continuity and intergenerational discontinuity in antisocial behavior. Studies with the four aforementioned features differ from traditional longitudinal studies, so their results extend understanding of the origins and course of antisocial behavior. In providing an illustration of such a design, the Rochester Intergenerational Study is described. This component of the original Rochester Youth Development Study annually assesses the G2 parents (the original adolescent participants in the Rochester Study). All G3 children 8 years old and older are also interviewed. For younger aged G3 children, videos were made of them interacting with the G2 parent and with the other primary caregiver. Findings are discussed. 4 tables, 8 figures, and 50 references