Crime and Coercion: A Test of Core Theoretical Propositions

James D. Unnever, Radford University
Mark Colvin, George Mason University
Francis T. Cullen, University of Cincinnati

ABSTRACT
In his recent Crime and Coercion, Colvin (2000) contends that individuals exposed to coercive environments develop social-psychological deficits that enhance their probability of engaging in criminal behavior. Using a sample of 2,472 students from six middle schools, we test core propositions of Colvin's differential coercion theory. Thus, we assess whether delinquent involvement is related to four coercive environments: parental coercion, peer coercion, a coercive school environment, and a coercive neighborhood environment. We also assess whether the influence of these coercive environments on delinquency is mediated by four social-psychological deficints: coercive ideation, anger, school social bonds, and parental social bonds. The analysis revealed fairly consistent support for the core propositions of differential coercion theory. Thus, we found that students exposed to coercive environments develop social-psychological deficits and therefore engage in relatively serious delinquent behavior.

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Updated 05/20/2006