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J Crim Justice. 2010 Nov;38(6):1113-1121.

GENERAL STRAIN THEORY, PERSISTENCE, AND DESISTANCE AMONG YOUNG ADULT MALES.

Abstract

PURPOSE:

Despite the surge in scholarly activity investigating the criminal career, relatively less attention has been devoted to the issue of criminal desistance versus persistence (until recently). The present study contributed to our understanding of this process by exploring the suitability of General Strain Theory (GST) for predicting changes in criminal activity across time.

METHODS:

Data from a longitudinal study of males in South Florida are examined using robust regression analyses.

RESULTS:

The core GST relationship, that changes in strain should predict changes in criminal activity, was supported, even after controlling for important adult social roles such as marriage, labor force participation, and education. While no support for the proposition that changes in self-esteem and social support moderate the strain-criminal desistance association was evinced, evidence was found that angry disposition, a measure of negative emotionality, moderated the association between change in chronic stressors and change in criminal activity.

CONCLUSIONS:

While exploratory in nature, these findings demonstrate the utility of employing GST principles in studies of criminal desistance.

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