American Journal of Criminal Justice

, Volume 38, Issue 1, pp 119-140

First online:

The Role of Vicarious and Anticipated Strain on the Overlap of Violent Perpetration and Victimization: A Test of General Strain Theory

  • Egbert ZavalaAffiliated withCriminal Justice Program, The University of Texas at El Paso Email author 
  • , Ryan E. SpohnAffiliated withSchool of Criminology and Criminal Justice, University of Nebraska at Omaha

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Numerous studies have documented a relationship between criminal offending and violent victimization. That is, people who commit criminal behavior are also more likely to be victimized. As such, criminological theories traditionally used to explain criminal behavior have now been applied to explain victimization. The current study examines whether Agnew’s general strain theory can explain the offender-victim overlap using a nationally representative sample of males. Results show that vicarious strain is positive and significant in predicting both victimization and perpetration. Anticipated strain was found only to be significant and positive in predicting victimization, but not perpetration. The study’s limitations and future research are discussed.


Victim-offender overlap General strain theory Vicarious strain Anticipated strain