Delinquency Theories: Integrating Sociological and Social Psychological Models

Nathaniel Eugene Terrell, Emporia State University

In teaching theoretical perspectives to undergraduates on juvenile delinquency, it becomes evident that there is always a step missing in the theory process. Some say the root cause of crime is in the decision to commit the act. How is this decision made? Traditional theories of crime include factors such as socio-economic factors, state policies, the organization of institutions, the role of race and gender, socialization, biological factors, personality factors, self-control, and rational choice. Every factor has a single or very limited set of explanatory power. Utilizing Ajzen's (1991) theory of planned behavior can help fill in the gap where other theories have been lacking. Ajzen's theory of planned behavior has emerged as one of the dominant social cognitive frameworks for understanding motivation and behavior. Perceived behavioral control, along with attitudes and subjective norms are intergraded with other perspectives to develop a model of delinquent behavior.

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Updated 05/20/2006