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Maternal Versus Adolescent Reports of Self-Control: Implications for Testing the General Theory of Crime

NCJ Number
Journal of Criminal Justice Volume: 41 Issue: 1 Dated: January/February 2013 Pages: 24-32
Ryan C. Meldrum; Jacob T.N. Young; Callie Harbin Burt; Alex R. Piquero
Date Published
February 2013
9 pages
Using data drawn from a sample of U.S. families across 10 cities, this study used structural equation models to examine whether identical indicators of maternal and adolescent reports of self-control are differentially related to delinquency and parental socialization.
There were two key findings. First, the strength of the relationship between self-control and delinquency was substantively weaker when maternal reports of self-control were used in lieu of adolescent reports of self-control. Second, a comprehensive measure of parental socialization - capturing dimensions of monitoring, hostility, and warmth - is strongly related to adolescent reported self-control, but only weakly related to maternal reported self-control. The findings thus indicate that conclusions about the strength of the link between self-control, delinquency, and parenting depend on the source of the measure of self-control. The findings indicate that maternal and adolescent reports of self-control cannot be used interchangeably in testing Gottfredson and Hirschi's self-control construct in their general theory of crime. Future research that examines self-control theory should pay greater attention to the source of the measure of self-control and the implications of using different sources of self-control in interpreting findings of theoretical significance. Existing tests of self-control theory that use different information to measure self-control diverge in their findings. 5 tables, 8 notes, and 49 references