Intelligence is associated with criminal justice processing: Arrest through incarceration

Kevin M. Beaver, Joseph A. Schwartz, Joseph L. Nedelec, Eric J. Connolly, Brian B. Boutwell, J. C. Barnes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


Findings flowing from empirical research consistently indicate that IQ is associated with criminal involvement, with persons of relatively lower IQ being more likely to engage in various types of crime when compared with persons of relatively higher IQ. As with all research, however, there are a number of limitations with the existing literature that may bias the IQ-crime connection in unknown ways. Specifically, previous research has generally analyzed sub-samples drawn from non-nationally representative samples, has relied on a narrow range of criminal justice measures, has not fully examined whether the IQ-crime link is observed across demographic subgroups, and has not always ruled out the effects of potential confounds. The current study is designed to overcome the most serious of these limitations and offer new evidence of the link between IQ and criminal involvement. Analysis of data drawn from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health) provides strong evidence indicating that IQ and crime are linked even after addressing various shortcomings of previous research. Limitations of the study are discussed and directions for future research are offered.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)277-288
Number of pages12
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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