Beyond Stafford and Warr's reconceptualization of deterrence: Personal and vicarious experiences, impulsivity, and offending behavior

Alex R. Piquero, Greg Pogarsky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

180 Citations (Scopus)


Recently, Stafford and Warr identified four categories of experiences hypothesized to underlie judgments about the risk of legal sanctions: personal punishment experience, personal punishment avoidance, vicarious punishment experience, and vicarious punishment avoidance. Using original data to test the Stafford and Warr model, five key findings emerge. First, both personal and vicarious avoidance experiences relate positively to offending. Second, punishment and avoidance experiences affect behavior by influencing sanction risk perceptions. Third, the combination of low personal and vicarious punishment avoidance strongly dissuades offending. Fourth, prior offending conditions the influence of punishment and avoidance experiences in a manner consistent with Stafford and Warr. Fifth, while impulsive individuals are influenced primarily by their own experiences, individuals who are not as impulsive tend to attend more to the experiences of others. Finally, punishment experiences appear to encourage rather than discourage future offending. We discuss how the self-serving bias and the gambler's fallacy help explain this latter, anomalous result.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)153-186
Number of pages34
JournalJournal of Research in Crime and Delinquency
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2002
Externally publishedYes

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