Graduation Year

2015

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Ph.D.

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department

Criminology

Major Professor

Shayne E. Jones, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Wesley G. Jennings, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Christopher L. Hensley, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Bryanna Fox, Ph.D.

Keywords

Juveniles, Pathways to Desistance, Propensity, Psychopathy, Social Learning Theory, Tobit

Abstract

Social learning theory continues to be one of the most enduring theories of crime. Psychological criminology, on the other hand, tends to explain crime in terms of behavioral propensities. This research is specifically focused on the generality of social learning theory as it varies across a measure of criminal propensity- in this case, psychopathy. Prior studies have tested various theories with the use of measures of propensity, but the theory is rarely social learning, and the measure of propensity has never been psychopathy. The current study examines three components of social learning theory (definitions, differential association, and differential reinforcement) to determine whether or not its influence is dependent on an individual's level of psychopathy. Data used in this research is from the Pathways to Desistance Project, a serious juvenile delinquent sample. Standard ordinary least-squares and Tobit regressions (a method of analyses designed to correct for linear relationships between variables when there is censoring in the dependent variable) are modeled. Results indicate that definitions, differential association, differential reinforcement, and both measures of psychopathy exerted significant main effects on antisocial behavior. In addition, the social learning variables interacted differently across varying levels of psychopathy. Conclusions and policy implications for future social science research are discussed within.

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