Disentangling Belief and Self-Control

Barbara J. Costello, University of Rhode Island

Gottfredson and Hirschi's self-control theory has been criticized for its neglect of variables important to Hirschi's social control theory. This paper examines the theoretical and empirical overlap between the concepts obelief and self-control. Analysis of survey data collected in Fayetteville, Arkansas show a substantial empirical relationship between measures of belief and self-control. This suggests that the omission of belief in self-control theory is not an important weakness, as the processes that lead to the acquisition of both belief and self-control are essentially the same from a control theory perspective. Further, it is argued that these findings are difficult to reconcile with competing theoretical perspectives such as strain and differential association theories.

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Updated 05/20/2006