Gender and Reactions to Strain: A Latent-Variable Modeling Test of General Strain Theory

Sung Joon Jang, Louisiana State University
Byron R. Johnson, University of Pennsylvania

Previous research on the application of Agnew's general strain theory (GST) to gender differences in strain and deviant coping is limited not only in number but in model specification. First, previous researchers failed to include negative-emotional reactions to strain, the key variable distinguishing GST from other theories. Second, few sudies examined gender differences in interactions involving reactions to strain and conditioning factor, for which we focus on religiosity. Based on mental health and religiosity literatures as well as GST, we hypothesize that (1) women tend to experience more distress but engage in less deviance in reaction to strain then men; (2) this emotion-behavior inconsistency is partly explained by higher religiosity among women than men; and (3) the protective, main and interactive, effects of religiosity are greater for men given the lower prevalence of religious involvement among men than women. Data to test these hypotheses are drawn from a nationally representative survey of the adult African American population. Structural equation modeling is applied to estimate a latent-variable model of distress and deviant coping and to conduct multiple-sample covariance structure analysis, whereas two-stage least squares technique is employed to estimate interactions between two latent variables, distress and religiosity.

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Updated 05/20/2006