Family Strain, Negative Emotion, and Delinquency: Forwarding General Strain Theory as an Explanation of the Gender Gap

Dusten Hollist, University of Montana

The disparity in the level of delinquency committed by male and female offenders is a topic of much empirical interest. This article examines the utility of Robert Agnew's general strain theory (GST) as a framework for explaining the differing levels of delinquency between males and females. The focus of the current attempt is to test the hypotheses stated in Broidy and Agnew's (1997) theoretical analysis of GST and to build upon an initial test of these hypotheses in a recent paper by Hay (2003). This research suggest that GST can account for gender differences by positing that males and females differ (1) in the types of strain they experience; (2) in their emotional responses to strain; (3) due to differences in coping, social support, opportunities, social control and the disposition to commit crime. Results of the study show promise in the use of GST as a means to assess the consistency of the gender gap. Limitations of the current study and implications for future research are presented.

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Updated 05/20/2006