Comparing attitudinal and situational measures of self-control among felony offenders

Jeff Bouffard, Jessica M. Craig, Alex R. Piquero

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7 Citations (Scopus)


Background Hirschi recently revised the measurement of self-control to include the number and salience of costs an individual considers in an offending situation. Evidence is mixed on its predictive utility relative to other self-control measures but suffers from different studies operationalising the measure in different ways and mostly examining it with non-offenders. Aims This study aimed to investigate Hirschi's reconceptualisation of self-control. Our research question was whether the number and salience of Hirschi's 'costs' are independently related to offending. Methods Data on self-perceptions of likelihood of driving while drunk and various self-control and social control measures were collected by researchers during an orientation class for convicted offenders newly received into correctional facilities - one for men and one for women - during January to May 2011. Results Eight hundred and nineteen men and 194 women completed the ratings. Both attitudinal and situational self-control measures were independently associated with self-rated likelihood of driving while drunk. These findings were confined to the male offenders. Conclusions Findings revealed mixed support for Hirschi's conceptualisation of self-control and its relevance. Situational and attitudinal measures of self-control share some common ground but relate differently to offending according to gender. Further research is needed to find out if these results are generalisable to other crime types and whether race/ethnicity could modify the findings. Even among convicted offenders whose crimes are serious and/or frequent enough to result in imprisonment, high self-control may inhibit offending. This has implications for intervention programmes. This is the first study to compare attitudinal and self-control measures in relation to offending among a sample of incarcerated offenders and across gender.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)112-125
Number of pages14
JournalCriminal Behaviour and Mental Health
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2015
Externally publishedYes

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