Adverse Neighborhood Conditions and Sanction Risk Perceptions: Using SEM to Examine Direct and Indirect Effects

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The present study examines how individuals’ sanction risk perceptions are shaped by neighborhood context.


Using structural equation modeling on data from waves 6 and 7 of the National Youth Survey, we assess the direct and indirect relationships between adverse neighborhood conditions and two dimensions of sanction risk perceptions: the certainty of punishment and perceived shame. In addition, the role of shame as a mediator between neighborhood context and certainty of punishment is also investigated.


The results indicate that adverse neighborhood conditions indirectly affect both forms of sanction risk perceptions, and additional results show that perceived shame fully mediates the effect of neighborhood conditions on perceptions of the certainty of punishment.


The perceptual deterrence/rational choice perspective will need to be revised to accommodate more explicitly the role of neighborhood context in shaping sanction risk perceptions.