Future Uncertainty and Offending: Individual Differences and Context Effects

Richard P. Wiebe, Northeastern University
Randall Grometstein, Fitchburg State College

Various researchers from anthropological, psychological, Darwinian, and criminological traditions have focused on the role of individual beliefs in an uncertain future as a correlate of self-centered, antisocial, and present-oriented behavior. If the future is unpredictable, or predictably unrewarding, there is no compelling reason to delay gratification, or prioritize the needs of others over the needs of the self. The present study seeks to, first, confirm the construct of future uncertainty as an individual-level predictor of delinquency and other self-centered behavior and, second, to examine the effects of various contexts, such as schools and neighborhoods, on future uncertainty itself. The data used for this investigation come from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health), a nationally-representative (US) sample of adolescents that allows analysis by school, neighborhood, peer group, and family.

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Updated 05/20/2006