The Person in Context: The Effect of Early Onset Criminality on Conflict Scenario Responses

Jennifer (Johnson) Roberts, Indiana University of Pennsylvania

This paper examines the utility of typology of offender theories (e.g., Moffitt, 1993; Patterson et al., 1989) in the study of violent situations. The purpose of this research is to examine what salient diferences exist between individuals whose onset of criminal behavior is early (as opposed to late) with regard to their responses to a variety of conflict scenarios. In doing so, this study expands on previous violence research by exploring important individual- and situational-level factors that might influence a subject's responses. The data used for this paper were collected from over 700 male inmates. An early onset measurement was constructed based upon each subject's accounts of their age at first involvement in crime and their age at first arrest. Subject's were presented with 12 hypothetical conflict scenarios and asked to rate both how angry the scenario made them and what they would do if actually in the situation. For each scenario important situational factors (i.e., presence of others, relationship) were coded. Hierarchial linear modeling was used in the analysis. Preliminary results suggest that subjects with an earlier onset chose more violent responses to the scenarios that those with a later onset.

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Updated 05/20/2006