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Self-Control and Criminal Opportunity: A Prospective Test of the General Theory of Crime

Douglas Longshore
Social Problems
Vol. 45, No. 1 (Feb., 1998), pp. 102-113
DOI: 10.2307/3097145
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3097145
Page Count: 12
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Self-Control and Criminal Opportunity: A Prospective Test of the General Theory of Crime
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Abstract

The general theory of crime (Gottfredson and Hirschi 1990) proposes that self-control is the primary individual-level cause of crime and that its effect is contingent on criminal opportunity. This study conducted a prospective test of self-control and opportunity as predictors of property crime and personal crime among drug-using offenders. Each predictor had a main effect; property crimes and personal crimes were more frequent among offenders lower on self-control and those with higher opportunity. A significant interaction between these predictors was also detected. About four percent of the variance in each type of crime was explained by these predictors. Results support the proposition that self-control is a causal factor in criminal behavior and suggest that its effect is partially contingent on opportunity, but self-control and opportunity, as measured here, had very modest explanatory power.

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