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Sanctions, short‐term mindsets, and delinquency: Reverse causality in a sample of high school youth


van Gelder, Jean‐Louis; Averdijk, Margit; Ribeaud, Denis; Eisner, Manuel (2020). Sanctions, short‐term mindsets, and delinquency: Reverse causality in a sample of high school youth. Legal and criminological psychology, 25(2):199-218.

Abstract

Purpose

We question the commonly assumed view of a fixed causal ordering between self‐control, delinquency, and sanctions and test the hypothesis that experiencing sanctions may reduce levels of self‐control, thereby increasing the risk of future delinquent behaviour. As a subsidiary goal, we argue for a parsimonious view of self‐control that is limited to its key components, risk‐taking, and impulsivity.
Methods

We use three waves of data from the Zurich Project on the Social Development from Childhood into Adulthood (z‐proso), an ongoing prospective longitudinal study of Swiss urban youth (N = 1,197), and include police contacts and school sanctions as predictors of delinquency. We test our hypothesis using path analysis and control for a series of potential confounders, including prior levels of self‐control and earlier delinquency.
Results

In line with our hypothesis, the results indicate that sanctioning reduces levels of self‐control, net of prior levels of self‐control, and earlier delinquency and that self‐control mediates the relation between sanctioning and subsequent delinquency.
Conclusions

We conclude that the relation between self‐control and crime may be bi‐ rather than unidirectional with sanctions reducing levels of self‐control, which in turn contributes to criminal behaviour. Implications for theory are discussed.

Abstract

Purpose

We question the commonly assumed view of a fixed causal ordering between self‐control, delinquency, and sanctions and test the hypothesis that experiencing sanctions may reduce levels of self‐control, thereby increasing the risk of future delinquent behaviour. As a subsidiary goal, we argue for a parsimonious view of self‐control that is limited to its key components, risk‐taking, and impulsivity.
Methods

We use three waves of data from the Zurich Project on the Social Development from Childhood into Adulthood (z‐proso), an ongoing prospective longitudinal study of Swiss urban youth (N = 1,197), and include police contacts and school sanctions as predictors of delinquency. We test our hypothesis using path analysis and control for a series of potential confounders, including prior levels of self‐control and earlier delinquency.
Results

In line with our hypothesis, the results indicate that sanctioning reduces levels of self‐control, net of prior levels of self‐control, and earlier delinquency and that self‐control mediates the relation between sanctioning and subsequent delinquency.
Conclusions

We conclude that the relation between self‐control and crime may be bi‐ rather than unidirectional with sanctions reducing levels of self‐control, which in turn contributes to criminal behaviour. Implications for theory are discussed.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Jacobs Center for Productive Youth Development
Dewey Decimal Classification:370 Education
Scopus Subject Areas:Health Sciences > Pathology and Forensic Medicine
Social Sciences & Humanities > Applied Psychology
Uncontrolled Keywords:Applied Psychology, Pathology and Forensic Medicine
Language:English
Date:1 September 2020
Deposited On:29 Jan 2021 15:56
Last Modified:30 Jan 2021 21:00
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, Inc.
ISSN:1355-3259
OA Status:Hybrid
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1111/lcrp.12170

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