American Journal of Criminal Justice

, Volume 36, Issue 2, pp 138–157

The Influence of the Social Bond on Self-control at the Moment of Decision: Testing Hirschi’s Redefinition of Self-control

Article
  • 796 Downloads

Abstract

Hirschi (2004) redefined self-control as the tendency to consider the “full range” of potential costs relevant to a criminal act, suggesting that such costs vary in number and salience based on one’s level of self-control. He also suggested self-control, as expressed at the moment of decision, was influenced by the individual’s level of social bonding; those with fewer bonds would exhibit less self control by considering fewer costs and finding them less salient when making a decision. This study presents an initial attempt to examine Hirschi’s theoretical statement linking concepts from the two theories. Presented with a hypothetical drunk driving scenario, participants were asked to identify perceived costs and salience as a measure of self-control, as Hirschi (2004) suggested. Results support Hirschi’s assertion demonstrating that the social bond impacts offending likelihood through its relationship to self-control expressed within the decision. Future theoretical and empirical directions are outlined.

Keywords

Self-control Social control Bonds Criminological theory Hirschi Crime causation General theory 

References

  1. Agnew R (2001) Building on the foundation of general strain theory: specifying the types of strain most likely to lead to crime and delinquency. J Res Crime Delinq 38:319–361CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Agnew R (2006) Storylines as a neglected cause of crime. J Res Crime Delinq 43:119–147CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Akers RL (1991) Self-control as a general theory of crime. J Quant Criminol 7:201–211CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Azjen I (1991) The theory of planned behavior. Organ Behav Hum Decis Process 50:179–211CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Baron SW, Forde DR, Kay FM (2007) Self-control, risky lifestyles, and situation: the role of opportunity and context in the general theory. J Crim Justice 35:119–136CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Baumeister RF, DeWall CN, Ciarocco NJ, Twenge JM (2005) Social exclusion impairs self-regulation. J Pers Soc Psychol 88:589–604CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Baumeister RF, Exline JJ (1999) Virtue, personality, and social relations: self-control as the moral muscle. J Pers 67:1165–1194CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Baumeister RF, Vohs KD (2007) Self-regulation, ego depletion, and motivation. Soc Pers Psychol Compass 1:115–128CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bouffard JA (2002) Methodological and theoretical implications of using subject-generated consequences in tests of rational choice theory. Justice Q 19:747–771CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Briar S, Piliavin I (1965) Delinquency, situational inducements, and commitment to conformity. Soc Probl 13:35–45CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Cornish D, Clarke RV (1987) Understanding crime displacement: an application of rational choice theory. Criminology 25:933–947CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Gibson C, Schreck CJ, Miller JM (2004) Binge drinking and negative alcohol-related behaviors: a test of self-control theory. J Crim Justice 32:411–420CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Gottfredson MR (2006) The empirical status of control theory in criminology. In: Cullen FT, Wright JP, Bevins KR (eds) Taking stock: the status of criminological theory—advances in criminological theory. Transaction, New BrunswickGoogle Scholar
  14. Gottfredson MR, Hirschi T (1990) A general theory of crime. Stanford University Press, StanfordGoogle Scholar
  15. Grasmick HG, Bursik RJ (1990) Conscience, significant others and rational choice: extending the deterrence model. Law Soc Rev 24:837–861Google Scholar
  16. Grasmick HG, Tittle CR, Bursik RJ, Arneklev BK (1993) Testing the core empirical implications of Gottfredson and Hirschi’s general theory of crime. J Res Crime Delinq 30:5–29CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Green D (1989) Measures of illegal behavior in individual-level deterrence research. J Res Crime Delinq 26:253–275Google Scholar
  18. Hay C, Forrest W (2006) The development of self-control: examining self-control theory’s stability thesis. Criminology 44:739–774CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Higgins GE, Wolfe SE, Marcum CD (2008) Digital piracy: an examination of three measurements of self-control. Deviant Behav 29:440–460CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Hingson R, Heeren T, Zakocs R, Kopstein A, Wechsler H (2002) Magnitude of alcohol-related mortality and morbidity among U.S. college students ages 18–24. J Stud Alcohol 63:36–44Google Scholar
  21. Hirschi T (1969) Causes of delinquency. University of California Press, BerkeleyGoogle Scholar
  22. Hirschi T (1979) Separate and unequal is better. J Res Crime Delinq 16:34–38CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Hirschi T (2002) Causes of delinquency. Transaction, New Brunswick (Original work published 1969)Google Scholar
  24. Hirschi T (2004) Self-control and crime. In: Baumeister RF, Vohs KD (eds) Handbook of self-regulation: research, theory, and applications. Guilford, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  25. Hope TL, Grasmick HG, Pointon LJ (2003) The family in Gottfredson and Hirschi’s General Theory of Crime: structure, parenting, and self-control. Sociol Focus 36:291–311Google Scholar
  26. Laub JH (2002) Introduction: the life and work of Travis Hirschi. In: Laub JH (ed) The craft of criminology: selected papers by Travis Hirschi. Transaction Books, New BrunswickGoogle Scholar
  27. Loewenstein G, Nagin D, Paternoster R (1997) The effect of sexual arousal on expectations of sexual forcefulness. J Res Crime Delinq 34:443–473CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Longshore D (1998) Self-control and criminal opportunity: a prospective test of the general theory of crime. Soc Probl 45:102–113CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Longshore D, Chang E, Hsieh SC, Messina N (2004) Self-control and social bonds: a combined control perspective on deviance. Crime Delinq 50:542–564CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Matza D (1964) Delinquency and drift. Wiley, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  31. Mazerolle P, Burton VS, Cullen FT, Evans TD, Payne GL (2000) Strain, anger, and delinquent adaptations: specifying general strain theory. J Crim Justice 28:89–101CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Muraven M, Baumeister RF (2000) Self-regulation and depletion of limited resources: does self control resemble a muscle? Psychol Bull 126:247–259CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Murray GF, Erickson PG (1987) Cross-sectional versus longitudinal research: an empirical comparison of projected and subsequent criminality. Soc Sci Res 16:107–118CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Nagin DS (2007) Moving choice to center stage in criminological research and theory: the American Society of Criminology 2006 Sutherland Address. Criminology 45:259–272CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Nagin DS, Paternoster R (1993) Enduring individual differences and rational choice theories of crime. Law Soc Rev 27:467–496CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Nagin DS, Paternoster R (1994) Personal capital and social control: the deterrence implications of a theory of individual differences in criminal offending. Criminology 32:581–606Google Scholar
  37. Nagin DS, Pogarsky G (2001) Integrating celerity, impulsivity, and extralegal sanction threats into a model of general deterrence: theory and evidence. Criminology 39:865–892CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Nagin DS, Pogarsky G (2003) An experimental investigation of deterrence: cheating, self-serving bias, and impulsivity. Criminology 41:167–194CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Paternoster R, Saltzman LE, Waldo GP, Chiricos TG (1983) Perceived risk and social control. Law Soc Rev 17:457–479CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Piliavin I, Gartner R, Thornton C, Matsueda RL (1986) Crime, deterrence, and rational choice. Am Sociol Rev 51:101–119CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Piquero AR, Bouffard JA (2007) Something old, something new: a preliminary investigation of Hirschi’s redefined self-control. Justice Q 24:1–27CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Piquero AR, MacIntosh R, Hickman M (2000) An application of item response theory to Grasmick et al’.s self-control scale. Criminology 38:897–929CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Piquero AR, Tibbetts SG (1996) Specifying the direct and indirect effects of low self-control and situational factors in offenders’ decision making: toward a more complete model of rational offending. Justice Q 13:481–510CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Pogarsky G (2004) Projected offending and contemporaneous rule-violation: implications for heterotypic continuity. Criminology 42:111–136CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Tittle CR (1995) Control balance: toward a general theory of deviance. Westview, BoulderGoogle Scholar
  46. Tittle CR, Ward DA, Grasmick HG (2003) Self control and crime/deviance: cognitive vs. behavioral measures. J Quant Criminol 19:333–365CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Tittle CR, Ward DA, Grasmick HG (2004) Capacity for self-control and individuals’ interest in exercising self-control. J Quant Criminol 20:143–172CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Toby J (1958) Hoodlum or businessman: an American dilemma. In: Sklare M (ed) The Jews. Free, New York, pp 542–550Google Scholar
  49. Vazsonyi AT, Belliston LM (2007) The family → low self-control → deviance: a cross-cultural and cross-national test of self-control theory. Crim Justice Behav 34:505–530CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Wechsler H, Lee JE, Nelson TF, Lee H (2003) Drinking and driving among college students: the influence of alcohol-control policies. Am J Preventative Med 25:212–218CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Wikström P-OH, Treiber K (2007) The role of self-control in crime causation. Eur J Criminol 4:237–264CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Wright BRE, Caspi A, Moffitt TE, Silva PA (1999) Low self-control, social bonds, and crime: social causation, social selection, or both? Criminology 37:479–514CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Southern Criminal Justice Association 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Sam Houston State UniversityHuntsvilleUSA
  2. 2.Seattle UniversitySeattleUSA

Personalised recommendations