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Armstrong -

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Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency





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Researchers have utilized the National Youth Survey (NYS) data to test a variety of theoretical explanations of criminal behavior. Here, the authors offer an assessment of scales used in tests of criminological theory based on NYS data. The authors conducted this assessment to provide results informing future tests of theory. Their analyses focus on understanding the extent to which scales representative of different theories are actually based on the same item content. They test for two distinct processes that may explain this phenomenon. In the first process, scales measuring a given construct are attributed to different theories. In the second process, scales measuring different constructs are based on the same items. Results show that both of the processes described above contribute to the use of the same NYS items in scales that are attributed to different theories. To inform future tests of theory, the authors identify the sections of the NYS where each of these processes are most prevalent, in effect identifying the areas of the NYS that future tests of theory should treat with the greatest care. Based on the implications of each process identified above, the authors also offer some suggestions to strengthen future tests of theory using NYS data.


This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Sage in Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency on November 17, 2008, available online:

Reuse restricted to noncommercial and no derivative uses.

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