The interaction of antisocial propensity and life-course varying predictors of delinquent behavior: Differences by method of estimation and implications for theory

Graham C. Ousey, Pamela Wilcox

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

67 Scopus citations

Abstract

Recent criminological research has explored the extent to which stable propensity and life-course perspectives may be integrated to provide a more comprehensive explanation of variation in individual criminal offending. One line of these integrative efforts focuses on the ways that stable individual characteristics may interact with, or modify, the effects of life-course varying social factors. Given their consistency with the long-standing view that person-environment interactions contribute to variation in human social behavior, these theoretical integration attempts have great intuitive appeal. However, a review of past criminological research suggests that conceptual and empirical complexities have, so far, somewhat dampened the development of a coherent theoretical understanding of the nature of interaction effects between stable individual antisocial propensity and time-varying social variables. In this study, we outline and empirically assess several of the sometimes conflicting hypotheses regarding the ways that antisocial propensity moderates the influence of time-varying social factors on delinquent offending. Unlike some prior studies, however, we explicitly measure the interactive effects of stable antisocial propensity and time-varying measures of selected social variables on changes in delinquent offending. In addition, drawing on recent research that suggests that the relative ubiquity of interaction effects in past studies may be partly from the poorly suited application of linear statistical models to delinquency data, we alternatively test our interaction hypotheses using least-squares and tobit estimation frameworks. Our findings suggest that method of estimation matters, with interaction effects appearing readily in the former but not in the latter. The implications of these findings for future conceptual and empirical work on stable propensity/time-varying social variable interaction effects are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)313-354
Number of pages42
JournalCriminology
Volume45
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1 2007

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Law

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