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Clinkinbeard -

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Journal of Criminal Justice



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Although there is robust support for low self-control as a predictor of delinquent behavior, the question of whether delinquent behavior impacts self-control has been largely ignored. We ask, after accounting for baseline group differences in impulsivity and self-control, can delinquency be associated with later group differences in self-control?


Utilizing data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health we employed propensity score matching to create comparable groups (i.e., on self-control and other delinquency correlates) of youth who did and did not participate in delinquent behavior in adolescence and compared them on self-control and impulsivity in later waves.


Despite baseline similarity, the groups identified as delinquent at Wave II differed significantly from non-delinquent groups on self-control and impulsivity at Waves III and IV. Both groups experienced improvement in self-control and impulsivity over time though improvement was more marked for the non-delinquent youth.


We have established preliminary evidence that delinquent behavior may be associated with later levels of self-control. Participation in delinquency may remove youth from normal developmental patterns in which self-control strengthens over time. Future research should attempt to replicate our findings and determine the specific mechanisms through which delinquent behavior may impact later self-control.


This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Elsevier in Journal of Criminal Justice on May 12, 2018, available online:

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

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