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Intelligence and Delinquency: A Revisionist Review

Travis Hirschi and Michael J. Hindelang
American Sociological Review
Vol. 42, No. 4 (Aug., 1977), pp. 571-587
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2094556
Page Count: 17
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Intelligence and Delinquency: A Revisionist Review
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Abstract

Recent research on intelligence and delinquency suggests that (1) the relation is at least as strong as the relation of either class or race to official delinquency; (2) the relation is stronger than the relation of either class or race to self-reported delinquency. In an analysis of the history of the research on the IQ-delinquency relation, we trace the developments leading to the current textbook position that IQ is not an important factor in delinquency. This position, which came into vogue about forty years ago and is still held by many sociologists, has its roots in: (1) a medical to sociological paradigm shift in this century; (2) the failure of subsequent research to substantiate the early exorbitant claims that low IQ was a necessary and sufficient condition for illegal behavior; (3) early negative reviews of research on this question by Sutherland and others; (4) reservations about the validity of the measurement of both IQ and delinquency; (5) erroneous interpretation of research findings; (6) speculation regarding factors which might account for the relation. It is noted that many currently prominent sociological theories of delinquency implicitly or explicitly use IQ as a crucial theoretical element. We show that IQ has an effect on delinquency independent of class and race, and we argue that this effect is mediated through a host of school variables.

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