Investigating the Generality of General Strain Theory: Strained Cops and Their Violent Responses

Chris Gibson, University of Nebraska at Omaha
Marc L. Swatt, University of Nebraska at Omaha
Jason Jolicoeur, University of Nebraska at Omaha

Agnew's (1992) General Strain Theory (GST) is one of the more recent advances in criminological theory. While there has been a growth of empirical evidence supporting key propositions of GST, the findings have been mostly limited to adolescent and college student populations. The current study explores the generality of GST by testing key hypotheses on a sample of 673 Baltimore, Maryland police officers that disproportionately report engaging in domestic violence. Using structural equation modeling, our study concludes that job-related strains lead to "negative affects," which, in turn, increases the likelihood for officers to engage in domestic violence. Moreover, support for the theory still exists when known correlates of domestic violence are statistically controlled. Implications for future research on GST and police officer strain is discussed.

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Updated 05/20/2006