Self-Control in Global Perspective An Empirical Assessment of Gottfredson and Hirschi's General Theory Within and Across 32 National Settings


Research concerning Gottfredson and Hirschi's (1990) General Theory of Crime has paid inadequate attention to the reliability and validity of self-control measures in non-Western settings, to the relationship between parenting and self-control in non-Western settings, and to Gottfredson and Hirschi's assertion that macro-level cultural forces have little or no influence on criminal behavior. The present study addresses each of these issues using a six-item self-control scale and two separate crime measures among young adult respondents from 32 Western and non-Western settings on all six humanly habitable continents. Across Western and non-Western settings, results suggest that (1) the six-item self-control scale demonstrates reliability comparable to that of prior self-control scales in the existing criminological literature; (2) the scale is associated significantly with both violence and property crime, and (3) an eight-item parental neglect scale is associated with self-control in both Western and non-Western settings. At the same time, HLM (Hierarchical Linear and Nonlinear Modeling) analysis suggests that there exists a macro-level contextual effect, unanticipated by Gottfredson and Hirschi, of aggregate parental neglect on individual-level self-control. Results further suggest a robust individual-level association, also unanticipated by Gottfredson and Hirschi, between personal and peer crime that tends to remain independent of adjustments for self-control.



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European Journal of Criminology


Sage Publications

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