Perceived injustice and delinquency: A test of general strain theory

Cesar J. Rebellon, University of New Hampshire
Michelle E. Manasse, Towson University
Karen T. Van Gundy, University of New Hampshire
Ellen S. Cohn, University of New Hampshire - Main Campus




While a growing body of empirical literature supports many key predictions of General Strain Theory (GST), the subjective perception of injustice remains a theoretically important but empirically under-researched type of strain. The present study therefore examines the relations among perceived injustice, anger, and rule-violation.


Using a sample of middle- and high-school students from 12 schools in Southern New Hampshire, the present study tests GST via a series of OLS, negative binomial, and structural equation analyses using a more precise measure of perceived injustice than prior work and extensive statistical controls for such variables as self-control, differential association, attitudes toward delinquency, and alternative strain measures in a longitudinal context.


Results yield strong support for the notions that perceived injustice promotes delinquency and that this relationship is mediated by situational anger.


Perceived injustice appears to be an important type of strain that should be incorporated into future research and addressed by future delinquency prevention efforts.