Revisiting Empirical Analyses of Strain: A Test of GST Specifications

Monica L.P. Robbers, Marymount University

Despite numerous tests of General StrainTheory (GST) over the past fifteen years, support for the theory has varied according to the types of strains tested. It is still somewhat unclear as to which strains are the most important predictors of delinquency. To overcome lack of specificity, Agnew writes that four conditions will affect whether strain will be related to delinquency: 1) when the strain is unjust; 2) when the strain is high in magnitude; 3) when the strain is associated with low social control; and 4) when the strain creates pressure for criminal adaptation (2000-p.1). Prior to this work, Agnew had maintained that an individual's adaptation to strain would influence the likeliholod of delinquency (1985; 1992). This paper tests Agnew's specification of GST with data taken from the 1999 Monitoring the Future Study of American Youth. Initial analyses provide empirical support for Agnew's specification of strain, indicating that unjust strains may play the most important role in prediction of delinquency.

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Updated 05/20/2006