Is There Constancy in Predictors of Deviance Across Cultural Settings?

Alexander T. Vazsonyi, Auburn University
J. Melissa Partin, Auburn University
Jennifer Crosswhite, Auburn University

An entire chapter of the General Theory (Gottfredson & Hirschi, 1990) deals with its cross-cultural/national application. Yet, surprisingly few empirical efforts have followed over the past decade to test propositions (cf, Vazsonyi et al., 2001). Gottfredson and Hirschi (1990) suggest that for a theory to be applicable cross-culturally, it must include a definition of crime that is culture free. In addition to the individual trait-like tendency of low self-control ("crimes require more than individual tendencies," p. 177), the authors also suggest that different societies provide different "opportunities" to individuals (formal or informal social control agents) that are important in understanding crime. In the current investigation, we tested these ideas cross-nationally. More specifically, we predicted different "types" of deviance with self-control, with maternal/paternal family processes, and with measures of neighborhood cohesion. Self-report data from N = 8,417 adolescents from four countries were used. Our analytic approach consists of examining the direct effects of predictors as well as comparing both unique and shared variance explained by these variables in crime and deviance. Preliminary findings suggest that the model explains 33.1% in the variability of total deviance after controlling for age, sex, family structure, SES, and culture. Additional analyses will examine the potentially unique impact of culture in understanding crime and deviance.

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Updated 05/20/2006