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The Integrated Cognitive Antisocial Potential (ICAP) Theory: Past, Present, and Future

Abstract

Purpose

The main aim of this article is to review the past, present, and future of the Integrated Cognitive Antisocial Potential (ICAP) theory.

Method

In the ICAP theory, the key underlying theoretical construct is antisocial potential (AP). It is proposed that long-term, slowly changing, between-individual differences in AP depend primarily on strain, modeling, and socialization processes, while short-term, quickly changing, within-individual variations in AP depend on situational influences such as being bored, angry, drunk, or frustrated, and the availability of opportunities and victims. Whether the potential becomes the actuality of offending depends on a cognitive decision-making process that takes account of perceived costs, benefits, and probabilities of outcomes.

Results

This article reviews the initial development of the ICAP theory (the past) and then the current form of the theory (the present). It then presents the results of some empirical tests of the theory. Finally (the future), it reviews some possible improvements to the theory, some predictions concerning controversial issues that might challenge the theory, some desirable empirical tests of the theory, and its policy implications for crime reduction.

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Correspondence to David P. Farrington.

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Farrington, D.P. The Integrated Cognitive Antisocial Potential (ICAP) Theory: Past, Present, and Future. J Dev Life Course Criminology 6, 172–187 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40865-019-00112-9

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Keywords

  • Integrated cognitive antisocial potential theory
  • Development of offending
  • Situational influences
  • Decision-making