Testing Moffitt's account of delinquency abstention

Alex R. Piquero, Timothy Brezina, Michael G. Turner

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

56 Citations (Scopus)


An established finding in criminology is that most adolescents engage in delinquency. Still, studies continue to identify a small group of individuals who refrain from delinquency even when it is normative for their same-age peers. Moffitt's developmental taxonomy provides some reasons for delinquency abstention, but research has been slow to assess these hypotheses. Herein, the authors use data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997 to examine one of Moffitt's unexplored abstention hypotheses: that some individuals abstain because individual characteristics block their access to delinquent peer networks and, hence, opportunities to mimic antisocial behavior. In addition, the authors also present the first empirical examination of gender differences in abstention. The results support some aspects of Moffitt's hypotheses concerning the importance of peer networks, but provide mixed evidence regarding the personal characteristics associated with delinquency abstention and involvement in deviant peer networks. Directions for future research and theorizing are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)27-54
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of Research in Crime and Delinquency
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Abstainers
  • Delinquency
  • Peers
  • Taxonomy

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