Role Strain, Role Learning, and Role Control: The Application of Identity Theory to the Study of Delinquency

Mark A. Konty, University of Arizona

Social Psychological theory has advanced well beyond that currently applied in the study of delinquency. Particularly, advances in identity theories have allowed social psychologists to make accurate predictions regarding specific behaviors. Identities, as either social roles or categories, are conceived as powerful meanings that motivate action and situate the individual within social contexts. Delinquency theories that employ psychological strain, social learning, or rationality assumkptions as causal mechanisms can all be subsumed under identity theory. This paper presents a comprehensive model of delinquency production resulting from the acquisition and practice of identities and provides some preliminary supportive evidence from the National Youth Survey.

(Return to Program Resources)

Updated 05/20/2006