The Moderating Role of Negative Emotionality, Positive Emotionality, and Low Constraint on the Relationship between Strain and Criminal Behavior
Gottfredson, Denise C
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General strain theory (GST) posits that strain causes crime (Agnew et al., 1992). Individuals who fail to achieve positively valued goals, lose positively valued stimuli, or are presented with negative stimuli are more likely to engage in criminal behavior. GST, however, acknowledges that individuals vary in their responses to strain and not all strained individuals turn to crime. Agnew et al. (2002) proposed a number of factors that may increase the likelihood of a criminogenic response to strain. Of these, he considers personality traits to be among the most important (Agnew, 2006). This study examines the moderating role of negative emotionality, low constraint, and positive emotionality on the relationship between strain and criminal behavior. Findings reveal a direct, positive association between strain and crime, but there was no support for the conditioning hypotheses proposed in this study.