U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Legal Cynicism, Legitimacy, and Criminal Offending: The Nonconfounding Effect of Low Self-Control

NCJ Number
Criminal Justice and Behavior Volume: 38 Issue: 12 Dated: December 2011 Pages: 1265-1279
Michael D. Reisig; Scott E. Wolfe; Kristy Holtfreter
Date Published
December 2011
15 pages
This study investigated if the effects of legitimacy and legal cynicism on self-reported criminal behavior are confounded by low self-control.
Prior research suggests that legal orientations (or domains of legal socialization), such as legitimacy and legal cynicism, influence compliance with the law (or criminal offending). The aim of this study was to assess a potential threat to the internal validity of these findings. Specifically, the authors test whether one potential confounder, low self-control, attenuates the observed effects of legal orientations on self-reported criminal offending. Using cross-sectional survey data from 626 adult participants, the results of regression models show that criminal offending is significantly shaped by both legal cynicism and legitimacy, even after taking into account individual variations in self-control. In short, the findings demonstrate that legitimacy and legal cynicism exert direct independent effects on law-violating behavior and that these relationships are not confounded by low self-control. (Published Abstract)