Identity, Peer Resistance, and Antisocial Influence: Modeling Direct and Indirect Causes of Desistance

  • Megan ForneyEmail author
  • Jeffrey T. Ward



Among identity theories of desistance, there is a discrepancy over the causal ordering of subjective and social factors that lead to desistance. Adding to a limited body of empirical research on the developmental process of desistance early in the life course, the present study examines the interrelationships between the subjective mechanisms of identity and resistance to peer influence and the social mechanism of peer antisocial influence and their direct and indirect effects on desistance.


Employing 11 waves of data from the Pathways to Desistance Study, the current study uses a random intercepts cross-lagged panel model (RI-CLPM) to account for between-person differences and isolate within-person interrelationships between identity, resistance to peer influence, peer antisocial influence, and delinquency.


Accounting for between-individual differences, results indicate significant stability in all variables, and significant same-wave associations between all variables. Reciprocal cross-lagged effects were found between resistance to peer influence and identity, and between identity and delinquency. Additionally, peer antisocial influence exhibited a significant cross-lagged effect on delinquency, and delinquency exhibited a significant cross-lagged effect on resistance to peer influence. A significant indirect pathway was detected from resistance to peer influence to delinquency through identity.


Findings support prior research and programmatic efforts to promote positive self-identity formation and reduce peer antisocial influence to directly encourage desistance and to promote problem-solving skills in peer contexts to indirectly foster desistance. As social and subjective factors are associated within wave, but not over time, future tests may need to examine desistance processes and the links between subjective and social factors over shorter time frames.


Desistance Identity Peer influence Resistance to peer influence Juvenile delinquency Random intercept cross-lagged panel models Pathways to desistance 



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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Criminal JusticeTemple UniversityPhiladelphiaUSA
  2. 2.Department of Criminal JusticeTemple UniversityPhiladelphiaUSA

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