Low Self-Control, Opportunity/Vulnerability and Victimization: A Spurious Relationship?

Jason Laurendeau, University of Calgary
Erin Gibbs Van Brunschot, University of Calgary
Leslie-Ann Keown, University of Calgary

A 'general theory of crime' would suggest that individuals characterized by low self-control will be more likely to commit both crime and analogous acts. Varying levels of self-control, it is maintained, work in conjunction with opportunity, yet what is defined as opportune (or not) is a product of self-control. Low self-control may contribute not only to creating the conditions of opportunity, but may also contribute to creating the conditions of vulnerability. Victimization may therefore be as likely to result from low self-control as it is to result in offending. According to general theory, however, the relationship between opportunity/vulnerability and victimization may be spurious, given that both are theorized to be the product of of low self-control. We consider this possibility through various path regression analyses by examining survey data from 1200 adult respondents and their respective levels of self-control, their opportunity and vulnerability as measured via self-protective behaviours with respect to crime, health and finances, and their reported levels of criminal victimization, ill-health and financial well-being.

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Updated 05/20/2006