The relationship between life satisfaction, risk-taking behaviors, and youth violence

John M. Macdonald, Alex R. Piquero, Robert F. Valois, Keith J. Zullig

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

99 Citations (Scopus)


This study builds on existing criminological theories and examines the role of life satisfaction and self-control in explaining youth violence. Using data from a stratified cluster sample of 5,414 public high school students who responded to the South Carolina Youth Risk Behavior Survey, the study examines the relationship between adolescents' perceptions of life satisfaction, behavioral risky acts, and self-reported acts of violence. Analyses indicate that higher levels of life satisfaction are associated with lower violence. Participation in work and involvement in health-related risk-taking behaviors pertaining to sex, drugs, and alcohol are also associated with increased violence. The implications of these findings for criminological theory and for school-based violence prevention programs are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1495-1518
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Interpersonal Violence
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Life satisfaction
  • Risk taking
  • Youth violence

Cite this