Linking self- and social control with deviance: Illuminating the structure underlying a general theory of crime and its relation to deviant activity

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

188 Scopus citations


The present paper operationalizes and empirically tests the most recent theoretical speculations of Hirschi and Gottfredson regarding an individual level characteristic of self-control and its relation to earlier specifications of control theory as well as the literature on personality. Linkages are drawn between their broad delineation of self-control and personal disorders of hyperactivity, impulsivity, attention deficits, and minor conduct problems. Psychologists disagree about whether such disorders represent single or multiple traits and whether both behavioral and cognitive measures can appropriately depict personality characteristics. Employing structural equation techniques, support for several propositions derived from Gottfredson and Hirschi's thesis is found: Self-control subsumes several personality disorders and is significantly comprised by early behavioral indicators of aggression and fighting, is inversely related to other elements of the social bond, is moderately stable over a short period of time, and significantly predicts criminal convictions. However, questions remain regarding the ubiquity of self-control, the magnitude and meaning of stability, and the power of this perspective to explain all forms of self-reported delinquency.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)41-78
Number of pages38
JournalJournal of Quantitative Criminology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 1994



  • convictions
  • personality disorder
  • self-control
  • self-reported delinquency
  • social control

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Law

Cite this