Power-Control and the Gender-Crime Relationship: Does Low Self-Control Intervene?

Brenda Sims Blackwell, Georgia State University
Alex R. Piquero, University of Florida

The intervening variables of perceived risk and "taste" for risk are included in the traditional power-control model, which aims to explain gender differences in minor forms of delinquency and the larger gap found in more, compared to less, patriarchal households. It is argued that in more patriarchal families, boys perceive lower risk for acts of delinquency and are less deterred by the risks they do perceive than do girls. Thus, it is inferred that sons are more impulsive, and give greater weight to proximate rewards and less weight to distal costs. In contrast, gender convergence in minor delinquency occurs in less patriarchal families because mothers socialize boys and girls similarly, yielding gender convergence in perceived risk and presumably, in impulsivity. Similarly, Gottfredson and Hirschi (1990) identify perceived risk and impulsivity as two of the central components of low self control, a trait resulting from parental socialization. This research first examines the viability of power-control theory for explaining gender differences in low self-control. In addition, low self-control is added to the power-control model in order to ascertain its impact as an intervening variable in the model. The implications of the findings are then discussed.

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Updated 05/20/2006