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Journal of Experimental Criminology

, Volume 6, Issue 3, pp 263–292 | Cite as

The correspondence of family features with problem, aggressive, criminal, and violent behavior: a meta-analysis

  • James H. Derzon
Article

Abstract

Family features and characteristics are often identified as central to the development of antisocial behavior and are thus attractive targets for risk-focused preventive intervention. Using meta-analytic techniques, we examined the covariation between 21 family constructs with the current or later display of problem, aggressive, criminal, or violent behaviors. The 80 mean relationships, based on 3,124 correlations from 233 reports of 119 longitudinal studies, discussed in this paper are generally moderate, with a grand mean across outcomes of \( \overline {{r_{x,y}}} = .15 \). Family constructs were most predictive of problem behaviors, \( \overline {{r_{x,y}}} = .21 \). Predictors measured earlier in life were significantly stronger in 12 relationships and significantly weaker in 18 relationships. These findings are discussed with reference to Rutter’s (American Journal of Orthopsychiatry 57:316–331, 1987) conceptualization of protective mechanisms which suggests that if family factors warrant the attention they have engendered, then it is through their interaction with other developmental and situational factors.

Keywords

Aggressive behavior Anti-social behavior Criminal behavior Family factors Meta-analysis Prediction Problem behavior Review Violent behavior 

Notes

Acknowledgements

I am indebted to my friend and colleague Dr. Mark Lipsey for all the opportunities he has extended me over the years and the chance to stretch my thinking and skills on this and other projects. I am also particularly indebted to Dr. Ali Habibi. A meta-analysis requires a tremendous amount of work, and this one was no exception. Without Dr. Habibi’s assistance, I’d still be coding. I would also like to thank my anonymous reviewers for their helpful and thoughtful suggestions and give special thanks to my good friend Dr. Anthony Petrosino for his thoughtful additions to the text and for encouraging me publish this work.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Battelle Centers for Public Health Research and EvaluationArlingtonUSA

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