Testing Tittle's Control Balance Theory: Results From the National Youth Survey

Andrew L. Hochstetler, Iowa State University
Matt Delisi, Iowa State University

Control is a conceptual core of criminology. Recently, there has been renewed interest in how control is related to deviance and how individual and situational power differentials affect control. In his pioneering control balance theory, Charles Tittle incorporates power and control into a general theory of deviance. The theory states that deviant acts are the outcome of insufficient and excessive control. The form that deviance takes is dependent on control ratios--the level of control individuals receive and exert. Control balance theory is largely untested. Data from the National Youth Study (n=1,725) is used to test control balance theory. We investigate the affects of control imbalances at work and in relationships on autonomous and repressive forms of deviance. Findings are consistent with previous research. Control imbalances are significant predictors of deviance although not always as the intial statement of control balance theory predicts. We discuss the implications of our findings for control balance theory and future research.

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Updated 05/20/2006