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Deviant Behavior
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Academic dishonesty and low selfcontrol: An empirical test of a general theory of crime
John K. Cochran , Peter B. Wood , Christine S. Sellers , Wendy Wilkerson & Mitchell B. Chamlin
a d c c a b

Department of Criminology, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL, 336208100, USA


b

Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Social Work, Mississippi State University, Mississippi, Mississippi State, USA
c

Department of Criminology, University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida, USA


d

Division of Criminal Justice, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA Version of record first published: 18 May 2010.

To cite this article: John K. Cochran , Peter B. Wood , Christine S. Sellers , Wendy Wilkerson & Mitchell B. Chamlin (1998): Academic dishonesty and low selfcontrol: An empirical test of a general theory of crime, Deviant Behavior, 19:3, 227-255 To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01639625.1998.9968087

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academic dishonesty and low self-control: an empirical test of a general theory of crime
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John K. Cochran
Department of Criminology, University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida, USA Peter B. Wood Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Social Work, Mississippi State University, Mississippi State, Mississippi, USA Christine S. Sellers Wendy Wilkerson Department of Criminology, University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida, USA

Mitchell B. Chamlin
Division of Criminal Justice, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA This study uses academic dishonesty as a unique type of fraudulent behavior upon which to test Gottfredson and Hirschi's general theory of crime. The study utilizes self-report data from a survey of undergraduate students enrolled in sociology courses at a large southwestern university. With these data, the authors examine a number of the core theoretical propositions of Gottfredson and Hirschi's theory. That is, we test issues concerning the dimensionality of low self-control, the influence of parenting on the development of self-control, the association between levels of self-control and involvement in academic dishonesty, and the interactive effects of low
Received 30 June 1997; accepted 27 August 1997. A previous version of this paper was presented at the annual meetings of the American Society of Criminology, Chicago, IL 1996. Address correspondence t o : John K. Cochran, Department of Criminology, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL 33620-8100.

Deviant Behavior: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 19:227-255,1998 Copyright 1998 Taylor & Francis 0163-9625/98 $12.00 +.00

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self-control and opportunity on the frequency of academic dishonesty. The results of our analyses, although rather mixed, do provide qualified support for the theory.
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Gottfredson and Hirschi's A General Theory of Crime (1990) is one of the more recent developments in criminology. According to Gibbs and Giever (1995), the theory has spawned considerable academic discussions because it calls into question many current criminal justice policies, crime control procedures, popular public perceptions, and mainstream criminological theories. In their attempt to produce a general theory, Gottfredson and Hirschi announced their dissatisfaction with "the ability of academic criminology to provide believable explanations of criminal behavior" (1990:xiii). In turn, they proclaimed that their theory explains every type of crime and deviance in all cases and aligns the nature of the criminal directly with the nature of crime. This study tests many of Gottfredson and Hirschi's basic theoretical propositions by exposing them to a new dependent variable: academic dishonesty. Moreover, this study contributes to the growing body of research that has assessed the empirical adequacy of the theory by operationalizing the frequently neglected concept of parental effectiveness and testing its role in the genesis of self-control. Likewise, it also measures and tests the causal effects of opportunity in interaction with low self-control on the frequency of self-reported academic dishonesty among a sample of university students.
STATEMENT OF THE THEORY

Gottfredson and Hirschi proposed that their theory "incorporates a classical view of the role of choice and a positivistic view of the role of causation in the explanation of behavior" (1990:120). It is from this cross-fertilized perspective that they discuss their conceptualizations of crime, criminality, and low self-control. Though they begin their efforts from within the classical school of criminology, Gottfredson and Hirschi do not merely resurrect this criminological tradition; their efforts are not old wine in new bottles. Instead, they expand upon the basic classical assumption that all human behavior is choice based on the

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self-centered pursuit of pleasure and the avoidance of pain by bringing into this equation ideas unique to positivist views on crime. First, they propose a general theory incorporating deviant as well as criminal acts. Thus, their approach is freed from the narrow classical restriction that defines crimes within legalistic parameters. That is, Gottfredson and Hirschi extend classical criminology to incorporate not only legally defined criminal acts, but analogous deviant acts as well, including "accidents, victimizations, truancies from home, school, and work, substance abuse, family problems, and disease" (1990:xiv). By expanding the classical conception of crime into a more non-political, non-culturally limiting arena, Gottfredson and Hirschi are able to develop a more general definition. In fact, Gottfredson and Hirschi define crime as "acts of force or fraud undertaken in pursuit of self-interest" (1990:15). This broader, more general definition blends the positivist conceptualization of crime and deviance as characteristically similar events with the classical vision of behavior as freely undertaken in the pursuit of pleasure and the avoidance of pain. Furthermore, Gottfredson and Hirschi characterize both deviance and crime as being easy, offering immediate benefits, risky, physical, and requiring little planning, organization or sophistication, but netting little in the way of long-term benefits. In fact, they conclude that these similarities make clear the need for a general theory of crime and that it is inappropriate to produce theories based on differences between types of crime. Gottfredson and Hirschi not only find similarities between crime and deviance, they also find similarity between criminal/ deviant acts and the people who commit them. It is at this behavioral appreciation of the criminal actor that they once again embrace aspects of positivist thought. Whereas they view crime and deviance classically as acts of choice, they find classical theory lacking in its ability to explain why some people choose crime as their means of pursuing pleasure and avoiding pain, whereas most others do not. To resolve this problem, Gottfredson and Hirschi employ positivist views on causation. However, as with their interpretation of classical criminology, they accept some portions of positivist thought and reject others. Criminality, the propensity to commit crime, is at the root of their causal explanation for individual differences in susceptibility to crime. Within this conceptualization of criminality,

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however, they reject deterministic notions of a genetic or other biological source. Instead, they focus on a probabalistic model of cause in which poor early childhood socialization and ineffective parenting practices produce an enduring criminal predisposition called low self-control. Thus, individual differences in self-control cause people to "differ in the extent to which they are vulnerable to the temptations of the moment" (1990:87). Low self-control is promoted as the trait that accounts for individual differences in offending. Gottfredson and Hirschi define self-control as "the differential tendency of people to avoid criminal acts whatever the circumstance in which they find themselves" (1990:87). It is the key theoretical cornerstone of their general theory of crime. They propose that criminals are simply people who are unable to control their desires because they lack self-control. Accordingly, Gottfredson and Hirschi believe that low self-control is the lack of internalized restraints necessary to keep people from engaging in criminal or deviant behavior. They explain that "people who lack self-control will tend to be impulsive, insensitive, physical (as opposed to mental), risktaking, short-sighted, and nonverbal, and they will tend therefore to engage in criminal and analogous acts" (1990:90). They assert that these characteristics combine to form a single, unidimensional personality trait that remains stable throughout life. These elements of low self-control bear remarkable resemblance to both the characteristics of people who commit criminal and deviant acts and to the acts themselves. Again, according to Gottfredson and Hirschi, people with low self-control succumb to the desires of the moment, are self-centered, gravitate toward physical activities, take risks, have a here-and-now orientation, and are quick to become frustrated and angry. Similarly, they characterize acts of crime and deviance as behaviors which, whereas often harmful to others or property, are also immediately gratifying, easy, exciting, physical, and pleasurable. Crimes tend to be acts that require little planning, occur close to the offender's home, and involve easy, available targets. Again, these attributes appeal to people focused in the present in their selfish pursuit of pleasure who cannot or will not consider the long-term consequences of their action to themselves or to others. Conversely, people possessing high self-control are better able to defer gratification, think of others, refrain from taking unnecessary risks, are willing to persevere under difficult

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situations, are more apt to talk out their problems, and are less easily frustrated and angered; consequently, these people are less likely to find crime attractive.
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Gottfredson and Hirschi proposed that a person's level of selfcontrol is developed in early childhood and is dependent upon the degree to which the child's caretakers are successful in recognizing uncontrolled behaviors and are willing and able to correct them. They cite a large body of research which establishes a link between effective parenting practices and criminality. From this body of research they explicate what they believe is necessary for self-control to develop and flourish within a child. They propose that three conditions are needed for parents to adequately instill self-control in their children, First, parents must continuously monitor and be aware of the child's behavior. Second, the parents must recognize when deviant, uncontrolled behavior occurs. Third, they must follow the deviant behavior with corrective punishment. These three processes are viewed as minimal conditions necessary for a child to develop self-control. It is also important to note that behind these conditions lies the clear parental communication of expectations for the child and a parental affection for and investment in the child's well-being. Unfortunately, problems can occur at any point in the process. For example, the parent may not love or want the child. Next, even if the parent loves the child, she/he may not be willing or able to effectively communicate behavioral expectations to the child or to monitor the child's compliance with these expectations. Also, even if there is love, communication, and monitoring, the parent may find nothing wrong with the child's uncontrolled behavior and thus not recognize deviant behavior when it occurs. Finally, even though the parent may love and both monitor and recognize deviant behavior, he/she may not possess either the ability or desire to properly discipline the child. In other words, there are many possibilities for the process to breakdown, resulting in a child with low self-control. Conversely, when a parent effectively follows the necessary procedures involved in monitoring, recognition, and discipline, she/he can establish within the child a high level of self-control and the ability to resist the temptations of crime.

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The Interaction of Opportunity and Low Self-Control in the Etiology of Crime

Gottfredson and Hirschi's general theory of crime is seemingly simple yet subtly complicated. Not only do they propose that self-control is a key factor in determining individual differences in proclivity toward crime and deviance, they also introduce the concept of opportunity for crime as a major tenet of their theory. They attest that it is, in fact, the interaction between low self-control and opportunity that produces criminal and deviant acts. Gottfredson and Hirschi argued that a general theory of criminal behavior should establish a link between individuals' capacity for criminal behavior and their opportunities to express this capacity. They advise that although low self-control does not require opportunity to lead a person into crime, when opportunities for crime are present, a person with low selfcontrol is more likely to succumb to the temptation. Thus, the attributes of low self-control and opportunity interact to cause crime. Moreover, they aver that "force and fraud are everpresent possibilities in human affairs" (1990:4). Thus, opportunities for crime are widely available to any whose level of self-control is low enough to remove any restraints which would otherwise inhibit or prevent criminal behavior. Gottfredson and Hirschi proposed that, "all else being equal," for persons with low self-control, the opportunity for a ride in a stolen car has more appeal than riding the bus home. Similarly, walking through an open door and stealing money off a table would be more appealing for those possessing low self-control than arising at 4:00 a.m. to earn money delivering newspapers. Furthermore, they emphasize that the interaction of opportunity and low self-control extends to non-criminal acts as well. For example, drinking, smoking, and non-marital sex, for those with low self-control, are more immediately rewarding than abstention. These scenarios all suggest that persons with high selfcontrol are less likely to take advantage of the easy, available, and immediately gratifying opportunities for crime and deviance than are those with low self-control.
LITERATURE REVIEW

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The relative newness of this theory brings it to the forefront of current criminologica! research, and even critics of the theory

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have pronounced it an important theoretical development. Unfortunately, there is not yet a sufficient body of empirical research available to generate any firm conclusions regarding the theory's validity. Although sparse, the research available on this theory has focused on five main areas: (1) the dimensionality of low self-control, (2) the stability of low self-control, (3) the causes of low self-control, (4) the effects of low self-control, and (5) the interactive effects of opportunity arid low self-control. Much of the earliest research targeted the dimensionality issue (i.e., whether or not low self-control is a unidimensional trait). Although generally supportive of the unidimensionality of low self-control, this research has produced varying results. Research by Grasmick, Tittle, Bursik, and Ameklev (1993) and by Wood, Pfefferbaum, and Arneklev (1993) supports Gottfredson and Hirschi's assertion that self-control is unidimensional. Likewise, Nagin and Paternoster (1994) and Piquero and Tibbetts (1996) both provided strong support for the unidimensionality of the scale. Furthermore, Polakowski's (1994) research suggests that a single latent factor underlies early indicators of impulsiveness, hyperactivity, attention deficits, and minor conduct problems. However, Longshore, Rand, and Stein (1996), in a survey of a criminal sample, reported a five factor solution which, although generally congruent with Gottfredson and Hirschi's description of the elements of low self-control, suggests a multidimensionality to this construct. Furthermore, a number of studies have shown that some of these elements of low selfcontrol are better predictors of criminal/deviant behavior than others. For instance, Arneklev, Grasmick, Tittle, and Bursik (1993) found that the single risk-taking sub-scale was a stronger predictor of "imprudent" behavior than the overall self-control scale. Likewise, Wood et al. (1993) argued that the six components of risk, impulsivity, insensitivity, physicality, shortsightedness, and a nonverbal orientation should be treated separately due to their differential predictive abilities. Thus, whereas most of the research establishes empirical support for the unidimensional nature of low self-control, some studies have obtained mixed results. As such, a definitive answer regarding the dimensionality issue is still lacking. Perhaps the most controversial issue coming out of Gottfredson and Hirschi's general theory of crime is their claim that low self-control is a persistent, time-stable personality trait. Their claim represents one of two distinctly different explanations for

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the strong positive correlation between past and future criminal behavior. The first of these explanations is expressed by the majority of mainstream criminological theories and has been referred to as a state dependence explanation (Nagin and Paternoster 1991). This line of explanation argues that prior involvement in crime has a genuine behavioral impact in that the experience of committing a crime increases a person's potential to commit future crimes by reducing internal inhibitions or external constraints or by increasing motivation. The other line of explanation, represented by Cottfredson and Hirschi, has been referred to as a theory of persistent heterogeneity. Under this explanation, the positive association between past and future criminal involvement is spurious, a statistical manifestation of persistent individual differences in criminal propensity. These differing perspectives have raised an interesting debate within the discipline of criminology; unfortunately, the research literature has not yet produced any closure to the validity of these rival claims. Some studies have found evidence supportive of the existence of a persistent, time-stable propensity toward crime (Nagin and Farrington 1992), others have failed to find such evidence (Nagin and Paternoster 1991), and still others have produced rather mixed results (Paternoster and Brame 1997). Thus, the issue of the stability of low self-control is currently unresolved. Note, however, that these studies have addressed the degree to which the effects of low self-control (or some other persistent trait of criminal propensity) are stable over time. They have not addressed the stability of the trait itself. Some more recent research efforts have produced evidence to support the notion that low self-control is stable across rather short time durations. Arneklev et al. (1996) showed stability low self-control over the course of one academic term, whereas Polakowski (1994) found self-control to be moderately stable across a 4-year span. Clearly, additional research needs to further explore this important issue.1 Unlike the modest but growing volume of research addressing the issues of the dimensionality and stability of low self-control, only one study thus far has examined the cause of low selfcontrol and then only indirectly. Polakowski (1994) examined the
This study cannot address the stability issue due to the cross-sectional nature of the data. Please note, however, that Gottfredson and Hirschi (1987) offered a rather convincing argument concerning the methodological adequacy of well crafted cross-sectional research designs.
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correlation between low self-control and elements of social bonding theory. He hypothesized and found evidence of inverse relationships between self-control and 13 different indicators of the social bond. Although not directly assessing Gottfredson and Hirschi's claim that effective parental monitoring, recognition, and discipline of inappropriate conduct molds a child's level of self-control, Polakowski's study does lend support to the importance of familial and other social bonds in a child's developmental process. The lack of research on this component of Cottfredson and Hirschi's theory also calls out for additional study, especially more direct tests of the influence of parental supervision on levels of self-control. The empirical literature concerning the direct effects of low self-control on criminal/deviant behavior is considerably more extensive and can be divided into three basic areas: tests of the theory on criminal behavior, tests of the theory on "analogous" non-criminal behaviors, and tests of the theory on a combination of criminal and "analogous" non-criminal behaviors. In the first category, research by Keane, Maxim, and Teevan (1993) and Nagin and Paternoster (1994) tests the ability of low selfcontrol to predict criminal behavior. Keane et al. examined the relationship between self-control and driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) among a sample of active drivers using respondents' blood alcohol level as a measure of DUI and a variety oi behavioral indicators of low self-control such as not wearing seatbelts (risk taking), having been asked by others not to drive while impaired (impulsiveness), and the number of alcoholic drinks consumed in the past week (hedonism). Their research showed, as predicted, a positive statistically significant association between the criminal activity of driving drunk and these behavioral indicators of low self-control. Nagin and Paternoster (1994) also found support that indicators of low self-control are related to participation in criminal activities. Their research utilized vignettes in which respondents were asked the likelihood they would commit a crime and their perceived likelihood of being caught and publicly exposed for committing crimes including drunk driving, larceny, and sexual assault. Their results support Gottfredson and Hirschi's assertions that participating in crime is related to a person's level of selfcontrol; however, they found that the individual components of a here-and-now orientation and self-centeredness were good predictors of criminal inclinations by themselves.

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Another recent test of the theory by Longshore et al. (1996) found support for the effects of both low self-control and specific components of the construct by themselves. In their sample of convicted drug users, they found that risk-taking, impulsiveness, and self-centeredness predicted participation in crimes of fraud (i.e., arson, burglary, theft, motor vehicle theft, forgery, and other larceny-related crimes), whereas risk-taking and an ill-temper predicted crimes of force (i.e., rape, homicide, assault, and robbery). In fact, in this study, as in the study by Arneklev et al. (1993), risk-taking alone was found to be a better predictor of criminal involvement than the overall low selfcontrol scale. Similarly, Wood et al. (1995) found strong support for the effects of thrill-seeking, immediate gratification, and impulsivity on adolescent self-reported substance use. Finally, Piquero and Tibbetts (1996) integrated Gottfredson and Hirschi's theory of low self-control with rational choice theory, and they found that low self-control produces both direct and indirect effects on intentions to shoplift and to drive drunk. In sum, although less than conclusive, these studies generally support Gottfredson and Hirschi's theory of low self-control. However, this body of research suggests that the components of low self-control may be just as, if not more, predictive of criminal behavior than low self-control. Moreover, some evidence suggests that the effects of low self-control may, in fact, be indirect. Gottfredson and Hirschi assert that their theory is general in nature and broad in scope and therefore should be able to explain both criminal and "analogous" non-criminal acts. A recent test of the theory on non-criminal behavior by Gibbs and Giever (1995) examined the relationship between self-control and the activities of skipping classes and alcohol consumption among a sample of university students. The study found that students possessing low self-control were indeed more likely to both skip classes and to use alcohol than were students with higher levels of self-control. Arneklev et al. (1993) tested the hypothesis that people possessing low self-control engage in imprudent acts such as smoking, drinking, and gambling. Likewise, Polakowski (1994) tested the relationship between selfcontrol and personality disorders and minor conduct problems such as classroom disruption and aggressiveness. These studies both found support for the predictive power of low self-control on deviant non-criminal behaviors. However, Arneklev et al.

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(1993) found low self-control effective in predicting alcohol use and gambling but not smoking. Similarly, Polakowski (1994) found that self-control failed to predict the minor forms oi deviance studied. Some researchers such as Grasmick et al. (1993) and Wood et al. (1993) examined the effects of self-control on both deviant and criminal behaviors. Staying true to Gottfredson and Hirschi's definition of crimes and "acts of force or fraud undertaken in pursuit of self-interest," Grasmick and his colleagues asked respondents to indicate how many times in the last five years they had lied to get something they desired and could not otherwise obtain or used or threatened to use force to get what they wanted from someone. Their study indicated mixed support for the theory in that low self-control was significantly and directly related to their indicator of fraud but not to force. Wood and his colleagues (1993) found that, although a singular self-control scale was significantly related to a variety of deviant and delinquent behaviors, disaggregating the construct into its component subscales provided greater insights into the causal effects of self-controls. Again, although generally supportive of Gottfredson and Hirschi's theory, these results are somewhat equivocal and open to question Gottfredson and Hirschi's claims as to the general scope of the theory. The final empirical issue derived from Gottfredson and Hirschi's theory addresses the interactive effects of low selfcontrol and opportunity on criminal/deviant behaviors. Unfortunately, few studies have tested for interaction effects. Grasmick et al. (1993) found evidence of such an interaction effect on indicators of both force and fraud, but they noted that their measure of opportunity alone offered a more parsimonious explanation of these behaviors without any interaction with low self-control. Grasmick et al. measured crime opportunity by asking respondents about being in situations during the past five years where they could have easily committed an act of force or fraud with little possibility of being caught. Keane et al. (1993) also found support for an interaction effect of opportunity and self-control on DUI. Similar to Grasmick et al. (1993), they used respondent's perceived risk of being arrested for DUI as their measure of opportunity. Although supportive of Gottfredson and Hirschi's claim of an interactive effect of low self-control and opportunity, the measures used in both studies strike us as, at best, surrogates or proxy measures for opportunity. Hence,

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additional research using better measures of opportunity are still needed before any closure can be brought to bear on this issue. Overall, the research literature suggests general but qualified support for the core empirical implications of Gottfredson and Hirschi's theory, but that additional research is still needed. The purpose of the Current study is to add to our body of knowledge regarding these issues. More specifically, this study uses academic dishonesty as an additional behavior upon which Gottfredson and Hirschi's concept of low self-control can be addressed. Using self-report survey data from a sample of undergraduate students, we test the following hypotheses: (1) Self-control is a unidimensional trait. (2) Self-control is the product of effective parenting (parental attachment and parental supervision). (3) Self-control is inversely related to academic dishonesty. (4) Self-control and opportunity have interactive effects on academic dishonesty. DATA AND METHODS The data for this study were derived from a non-random convenience sample of adult (i.e., 18 years of age or older) undergraduate students enrolled in all upper-division sociology classes at the University of Oklahoma (OU) during the Spring of 1993. Despite the limitations associated with such sampling designs, we feel that our sample is, nonetheless, sufficiently representative to permit cautious generalizations. All students at OU were required to take 12 hours of upper-division electives. Because most upper-division sociology courses at OU, unlike other courses in the College of Arts and Sciences, did not require any prerequisites, these courses were open to any students needing to fulfill their upper-division elective requirement. This, in addition to the fact that these courses address highly relevant social issues like marriage and family, crime and justice, race and gender, and so on, made them especially appealing to a large proportion of the student body. Thus, like the sample used by Gibbs and Giever (1995), this sample is fairly representative of undergraduate juniors and seniors within the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Oklahoma. However, minorities and women are slightly over-represented. The sample is 52.2% female, 23.9% minority, and 57.8% junior or senior status.

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The research was conducted through the use of a selfadministered questionnaire requiring approximately 30-45 minutes to complete. Participation in the study was voluntary, and both the anonymity of the respondent and the confidentiality of their responses were guaranteed. Finally, signed, informed consent was obtained prior to the administration of the questionnaire. The survey was given to all students attending each upperdivision sociology class offered during the Spring '93 academic semester. The total unique enrollment of all these classes was 732, but only 448 usable surveys were obtained. The rather low response rate (61%) is attributed to a combination of absenteeism, incomplete surveys, ineligibility of minor students, and student decisions not to participate.2 Nonetheless, it is similar to response rates reported in other surveys utilizing similar techniques with college student samples. Dependent Variable The dependent variable is a composite measure of the selfreported frequencies of 17 forms of academic dishonesty engaged in over the past 12 months. Academic dishonesty, for the purposes of this study, is defined as using deceit (fraud) in academic work. Forms of academic dishonesty include cheating during an exam or on a homework assignment, paying for or being paid for cheating, plagiarism, or lying about academic work, and they are operationally consistent with the "unethical academic behavior scale" developed by Calabrese and Cochran (1990). Studies on academic dishonesty tend to indicate the importance of both personal and situational characteristics in the etiology of cheating. A study by Haines, Diekhoff, LaBeff, and Clark (1986), addressing the underlying causal factors involved in cheating, found three primary factors; these include a lack of maturity, a lack of commitment to academic pursuits, and a neutralizing attitude. These characteristics of the cheater strike us as bearing a close resemblance to characteristics of persons with low self-control. Moreover, academic dishonesty is also a
2 These factors may reduce the generalizability of our findings in a variety of unknown ways. The readers are cautioned against reaching any premature conclusions on the basis of this study alone. However, our findings should be interpreted in conjunction with those produced by other tests of Gottfredson and Hirschi's theory.

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form of "analogous" non-criminal behavior, an act of fraud undertaken in pursuit of self interest, suitable for testing Gottfredson and Hirschi's general theory of crime. Finally, some of the particular forms of academic dishonesty that comprise our scale can be prosecuted as felonies or misdemeanors under Oklahoma criminal law. The 17 items measuring academic dishonesty were entered into a principal components factor analysis for the purpose of. scale construction. The 17 academic dishonesty items produced six factors with eigenvalues greater than 1.00; however, a scree discontinuity test suggested that a single-factor solution was evident. Loadings on this single factor ranged from .22 to .73. A Cronbach's alpha reliability coefficient for the 17-item additive scale was .73.
Low Self-Control

Self-control is defined as the differing tendency of people to engage in criminal or analogous actions. This tendency is comprised of six interrelated elements: impulsivity, insensitivity, physicality, risk-taking, shortsightedness, and hostility. Items similar to the Grasmick et al. (1993) and Wood et al. (1993) low self-control scales are used in this study. Both scales have shown support for Gottfredson and Hirschi's assertion that low selfcontrol is a unidimensional trait. Low self-control is operationalized by asking respondents to indicate how strongly they agree or disagree with a series of 38 Likert-type statements (1 = strongly agree, 4 = strongly disagree) designed to reflect each of the six components of the trait. The survey items asked about acting on the spur of the moment, looking out for oneself first, a desire for physical as opposed to mental challenges, thrill-seeking behaviors, and a quickness to anger. Eight items are used to measure the impulsivity component; the additive scale produced from these items yields a Cronbach's alpha of .74; moreover, these items form a single-factor solution with loadings ranging from .44 to .77. The six-item additive scale measuring a preference for simple tasks produced a Cronbach's alpha of .74; these six items also yield a single factor solution with loadings ranging from .55 to .78. Seven items are used to measure the risk-taking component; a factor analysis of these items produces a single factor with loadings of .55 to .82 and the additive scale produced from these items has a Cron-

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bach's alpha of .81. The seven-item physicality scale has an alpha reliability of .76, and these seven items produce a single factor solution with loadings of .37 to .79. Six items are used to measure self-centeredness; a factor analysis of these items also yields a single factor solution with loadings ranging from .45 to .81. The additive scale for these items has an alpha reliability of .77. Finally, the four-item anger scale produced a Cronbach's alpha of .75, and a factor analysis of these items again yields a single factor solution with loadings ranging from .70 to .82. Each of these component scales were used to create a single 38-item additive self-control scale (Cronbach's alpha = .84), which we use to test hypotheses 2-4. An assessment of the dimensionality of this construct, and a test of Hypothesis 1, is discussed in the opening of the results section below.
Effective Parenting

Four items in the questionnaire measure elements of parental supervision, the presumed determinant of self-control. Three of the items operationalize Gottfredson and Hirschi's definition of effective parental supervision including the monitoring of a child's behavior, the recognition of incorrect behavior, and the correction and discipline of inappropriate behavior. A fourth item measuring parental communication of rules and expectations is also included. Even though Gottfredson and Hirschi do not explicitly state that parents need to express rules before making sure their children obey them, it is implied. The following are the four Likert-type statements measuring these elements of effective parental supervision to which respondents were asked to indicate the extent to which they agree or disagree (1 = strongly disagree, 4 = strongly agree): "When I was younger, my parents had strict rules and regulations for me." "When I was younger, my parents kept a pretty close eye on me." "When I was younger, my parents usually caught me when I had done something wrong." "When I was younger, my parents usually punished me when they knew I had done something wrong." The first item measures parental rule setting, and the following items measure, in order, parental monitoring, recognition, and discipline for incorrect behavior. A principal components

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factor analysis of these four items produced a single factor solution (eigenvalue = 2.27) with the items loading on this factor at .67 or higher. A Cronbach's alpha of .74 is obtained for the fouritem additive scale. The scale is the same measure used by Wood et al. (1993) and was chosen because it closely parallels Gottfredson and Hirschi's ideas about what is necessary for parents to instill self-control in a child. Again, Cottfredson and Hirschi believe that self-control is formed in early childhood and stems directly from effective parenting practices. That is, self-control is a function of the degree to which parents establish rules and expectations, monitor their children's conduct, recognize inappropriate conduct, and are willing and able to correct it. Underlying Gottfredson and Hirschi's concept of effective parental supervision is parental attachment. Gottfredson and Hirschi explain that parental attachment is "all that is required to activate the system" of parental supervision (1990:97). If a parent does not care for and love the child, then typically none of the requirements for effective parental supervision will be met, and the result is a child with low self-control. They offer that parents of non-delinquent children are more likely to be warm, attentive, and loving, whereas parents of delinquent children are more likely to be distant, indifferent, and possibly even hostile toward their children. Three items measure parental attachment. Respondents were asked to indicate the extent to which they agree or disagree (1 = strongly disagree, 4 = strongly agree) with the following statements: "I feel that I can confide in my parents about anything." "I have very few quarrels with members of my family." "When I was growing up my home life was generally happy." A principal components factor analysis of these items indicates a single factor solution (eigenvalue = 1.77) with the three items loading at .74 or higher. A Cronbach's alpha of .65 was found for the three-item additive scale. Opportunity Opportunity to cheat was assessed through a measure of the number of credit hours in which the respondents were enrolled. It was assumed that the more credit hours a student takes, the

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more opportunity there is to cheat. The number of credit hours enrolled has a mean of 13.71 and a standard deviation of 2.45.
Control Variables

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Measures of respondent's age, gender, race/ethnicity, urban/ rural residency status, socioeconomic status (SES), class standing, and current grade point average are used as control variables. Age and grade point average are continuous variables. Gender and race/ethnicity are both dichotomous variables coded as 0 = female, 1 = male and 0 = non-white, 1 = white, respectively. Urban/rural residency status was measured using a sevenpoint ordinal scale (1 = large city with a population greater than 250,000 to 7 = rural area with a population less than, 2,000). SES was measured by three variables regarding the status achievements of the respondent's head of household: educational attainment, occupational prestige, and family income. Educational attainment was measured as the years of education completed, occupational prestige was measured using the Hodge-Siegle-Rossi scale, and family income was measured using a 12-point ordinal scale (1 = under $5,000 to 12 = $100,000 or more). Finally, class standing was measured using a five-point ordinal scale containing the categories of Freshman, Sophomore, Junior, Senior, and Graduate Student or other post-baccalaureate workA RESULTS The Dimensionality of Self-Control Table 1 presents the results of several factor analytic procedures used to test the dimensionality of low self-control (Hypothesis 1). Four separate factor analyses are reported; two using principal components exploratory factor analyses (models 1 and 2) and two utilizing maximum likelihood confirmatory factor analysis (models 3 and 4). In model 1, all 38 items are entered into the principal components factor analysis. The results show eight factors with eigenvalues greater than 1.00; however, the scree discontinuity test suggests that a single factor solution is best. All of the items measuring the impulsivity, preference for simple
Item wording and response categories, univariate distributions, means, standard deviations, and zero-order correlations for the variables used in this study are available from the lead author upon request.
3

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TABLE 1 Factor Analyses: The Dimensionality of Low Self-Control Exploratory factor analyses (Principal Components) Items 1 2 3 4 5 6 38 39 7 8 9 10 30 31 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 Model 1 Loadings .42 .37 .61 .55 .56 .32 .53 .44 .33 .40 39 .45 .32 .37 .35 .42 .60 .58 .08 .23 .49 Model 2A Loadings .56 .53 .77 .74 .75 .46 .52 .44 .56 .60 .74 .78 .74 .57 .72 .82 .74 .79 .53 .62 .55 Model 2B Loadings Impulsivity Confirmatory factor analyses (Maximum Likelihood) Model 3 Loading;; .39 .35 .59 .52 .53 29 .50 .41 .28 .37 .34 .41 .28 .33 .33 .40 .58 .55 .07 .21 .46 .43 .45 .73 .72 .73 .38 .42 .31 .45 .54 .66 .73 .65 .47 .66 .79 .72 .75 .41 .51 .49 Model 4 Loadings Impulsivity

.77

.77

Simple tasks .58

Simple tasks .58

Risk taking .53

Risk taking .39

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18 19 20 21 32 33 34 22 23 24 25 36 37 26 27 28 29

.33 .21 .18 .18 -.02 -.06 .03 .46 .47 .50 .54 .25 .23 .42 .57 .49 .33

.66 .78 .79 .72 .55 .56 .37 .66 .81 .80 .78 .54 .45 .70 .76 .82 .73

Physicality .15

.29 .17 .15 .15 -.02 -.07 .01 .43 .44 .48 .51 .23 .22 .38 .54 .46 .29

.60 .75 .77 .63 .42 .43 .29 .58 .78 .79 .73 .36 .28 .57 .69 .78 .59

Physicality .13

Self-centeredness .62

Self-centeredness .54

Anger .67

Anger .59

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tasks, and anger components have loadings of .30 or higher, five of the seven indicators of risk-taking and four of the six indicators of self-centeredness also have loadings of .30 or higher; however, only one of the seven indicators of the physicality component loads above .30. In the second model presented in Table 1, the results of a principal components factor analysis of the six additive scales produced from these 38 items and representing each of the six components of low self-control are reported. In this analysis, a two factor solution is suggested. The first factor is very consistent with Gottfredson and Hirschi's arguments that low selfcontrol is a unidimensional construct, but without the physicality component. On the first factor, all components of low self-control but physicality load at .50 or higher; on the second factor, only the physicality at risk-taking components load strongly. Thus, combined with the results in model 1, these exploratory factory analyses offer qualified support for hypothesis 1 concerning the dimensionality of low self-control. Models 3 and 4 present the findings of the maximum likelihood confirmatory factor analyses, which were also used to test the dimensionality issue. In the first of these, model 3, all 38 items were entered into an equation, which stipulated only the presence of a single latent variable, presumably self-control. The model, however, fails to fit the data (Goodness of Fit = .551, X2 = 3982.1, p = .0001). In model 4, each of the 38 items was prescribed to measure second-order factors representing the six components of low self-control; these second-order factors, in turn, were stipulated to reveal a single latent variable. Although it is the best fitting model obtained, model 4 provides ambiguous support for Gottfredson and Hirschi's contention that selfcontrol is a unidimensional construct. The Goodness of Fit Index (GFI) of .804 falls below the commonly recommended standard of .90 or higher. Moreover, the six subscales (first-order factors) in model 4 load on self-control (the second-order factor) with varying strengths. Impulsivity loads at a robust .77, simple tasks, self-centeredness, and anger load at .58, .54, and .59 respectively; whereas risk-taking loads at .39 and physicality loads weakly at .13. The 38 items themselves load on the first-order factors, with two exceptions, at .30 or higher (some at .60 or higher). These first-order factors and their loadings suggest that low self-control may, in fact, be multi-dimensional instead of unidimensional as claimed by Gottfredson and Hirschi. Wood et

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aL (1993) also found evidence of multidimensionality and suggested that the six components of self-control be viewed as six separate "personality characteristics." In sum, the results presented in Table 1 suggest that low selfcontrol may be best represented by those items measuring all but the physicality component. Moreover, low self-control is represented in these data by a complex hierarchical structure. Despite the lack of support for the role of physicality as a component of low self-control, we use the full additive scale composed of all 38 items in our analyses of the causes and effects of low self-control. In doing so, we offer tests of hypotheses most parallel to the propositions argued by Gottfredson and Hirschi.4
The Effect of Parenting on Self-Control

Table 2 presents the results of an Ordinary Least Square (OLS) regression analysis of the effects of the parental attachment of parental supervision scale on self-control while controlling for the influence of the socio-demographic variables. The results of this analysis indicate that self-control is not the product of effective parental supervision as predicted by Gottfredson and Hirschi. The parameter estimate for the effect of this scale (b'= .19) fails to attain statistical significance. However, consistent with the hypothesis, the effect of the parental attachment scale on self-control is significant and positive (b = .78) and, other than the effect of gender (b = - 7 . 2 1 , B = -.33), it is the strongest in the model (B = .13). None of the other exogenous variables attain statistically significant effects, and the model explains only 14.2% of the variance in self-control. Thus, it appears that other factors beyond effective parenting may also play a role in the development of self-control. Moreover, our data suggest that it is through warm, attentive parental attachments rather than vigilant parental supervision that good parents produce self-controlled children.
4 Other analyses not reported here use the six component subscales in lieu of the overall self-control scale. The results of these analyses are intriguing. First, as observed for the overall self-control scale, parental attachment is significantly associated with the development of selfcontrol for all but the risk-taking component; however, the effect of parental supervision on self-control fails to attain significance for all but the self-centeredness component. Second, all six subscales are significantly and inversely related to academic dishonesty; however, when all six subsca/es are entered into the same model, only the anger subscale retains a significant inverse effect on cheating. Finally, the parameter estimates for the subscale opportunity interactions failed to attain statistical significance; however, problems of multicollinearity were prevalent in these non-linear models.

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Parental Supervision Parental Attachment Age Race Gender Urban/Rural HOH: Education HOH: Occ. Prestige Family Income Class Status Intercept R2 .19 .78* .18 -.07 -7.21* -.43 .33 -.00 -.21 .07 8.44 .142 se(b) .21 .27 .20 1.18 1.01 .27 .42 .04 .18 .47 B .04 .13* .05 -.00 -.33* -.07 .04 -.01 -.06 .01

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* p < .05 (one-tailed t tests)

The Effects of Self-Control on Academic Dishonesty

Model 1 of Table 3 reports the results of an OLS regression analysis of the effects of the self-control scale on academic dishonesty, while controlling of the influence of the two parenting scales and the socio-demographic variables. These results indicate a statistically significant inverse effect of self-control (b = .25, B = .21), a finding consistent with Gottfredson and Hirschi's argument. College students with higher levels of self-control are less involved in cheating. Moreover, the effect of self-control is also the strongest in the model. Respondent's age, urban/rural residency status, and gender also attain statistically significant effects, indicating that younger (b = .60), nonurban (b = .71), and male (b = 3.03) undergraduates are most inclined to cheat. Despite these findings, the model accounts for only 12% of the variance in academic dishonesty.
The Interactive Effects of Self-Control and Opportunity on Academic Dishonesty

Models 2 and 3 in Table 3 examine the direct and interactive effects of self-control and opportunity (credit hours enrolled) on academic dishonesty. In model 2, the direct effects of both the self-control scale and credit hours on cheating are statistically significant (b = .26 and b = .63 respectively). Again,

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TABLE 3 OLS Regression: The Direct and Interactive Effects of Self-Control and Opportunity on Academic Dishonesty (N = 429) Model 1 b Self-Control Credit-Hours SC & Crd Hrs Parental Supervision Parental Attachment Age Race Gender Urban/Rural HOH: Education HOH: Occ. Prestige Family Income Class Status CPA Intercept R2 -.25* -.08 -.32 -.60* -.11 3.03* -.71* -.07 .05 .22 .48 -.41 48.89 .121 se(b) .06 .25 .33 .23 1.42 1.28 .31 .50 .05 .22 .57 1.20 B -.21* -.02 -.05 -.14* -.00 .12* -.11* -.01 .01 .05 .04 -.02 b -.26* .63* -.08 -.27 -.43* -.04 3.06* -.77* -.07 .05 .24 .41 -.73 38.97 .134 Model 2 se(b) .06 .25 .25 .33 .24 1.42 1.27 .32 .50 .05 .56 1.20 B -.22* .12* -.02 -.04 -.10* -.00 .12* b .31 4.91* -.04* -.08 -.34 -.48* -.03 3.13* -.75* -.10 .05 .28 .51 -.73 -19.80 .139 Model 3 se(b) .34 2.56 .02 .25 .33 .24 1.41 1.27 .32 .50 .05 .22 .56 1.19 B .26 .94* -.98* -.01 -.05 -.11* -.00 .12* -.11* -.01 .06 .07 .05 -.03

-.n*
-.01 .05 .06 .04 -.03

p<.05 (one-tailed ttests)

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respondent's age, gender, and urban/rural residency status are attained statistically significant effects, and the model explains 13.4% of the variance in academic dishonesty. Model 3 adds the self-control opportunity cross-product term to the equation in model 2. Doing so raises the explained variance by only 0.5%. More important, and consistent with hypothesis 4, an interactive effect of self-control and opportunity on cheating is found (b = .04). These results indicate, as predicted by Gottfredson and Hirschi, that students with low self-control are more likely to cheat when presented with opportunity. Respondent's age, gender, and residency continue to have significant effects as does credit hours enrolled; however, the significant direct effect of self-control observed in models 1 and 2 is lost. In summation, the results of our analyses indicate qualified support for the dimensionality of self-control and the effects of parenting on the development of self-control, but stronger support for the direct and interactive effects of self-control and opportunity on academic dishonesty. A preference for physical over verbal solutions to problems (physicality) does not appear to be a component of low self-control as argued by Gottfredson and Hirschi. However, the other five components do form a single factor solution suggestive of a unidimensional trait. Whereas the parental attachment scale was found to be positively associated with self-control, the parental supervision scale is not. Unfortunately, the parental supervision scale more closely approximates Gottfredson and Hirschi's concept of effective parenting. Concerning the effects of self-control on academic dishonesty, the findings reported here reveal a statistically significant, direct, inverse relationship as hypothesized. Likewise, these findings also support Gottfredson and Hirschi's assertion that self-control and opportunity interact in their influence on criminal or "analogous" behaviors. Thus, our findings produce mixed support for Gottfredson and Hirschi's theory. CONCLUSION The present study provides a unique test of many of the core theoretical propositions derived from Gottfredson and Hirschi's general theory of crime. To accomplish that goal, the study used data from a self-report survey of adult university students enrolled in upper division Sociology courses at the University of Oklahoma during the Spring '93 academic term. The dependent

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variable was a composite measure of the self-reported frequencies of 17 forms of academic dishonesty. The primary independent variable, self-control, was measured using 38 items derived from the scale developed by Grasmick et al. (1993) and Wood et al. (1993). Additionally, the questionnaire included items measuring parental attachment and parental supervision, opportunity for cheating, and a variety of common sociodemographic and school experience variables. Again, the results offer mixed support for Gottfredson and Hirschi's theoretical assertions. Factor analytic techniques provided qualified support for the assertion that low self-control is a unidimensional construct. We found evidence of unidimensionality among five of the six components of low self-control. In this respect, this study joins earlier research efforts by Grasmick et al. (1993), Wood et al. (1993), Arneklev et al. (1993), and Longshore et al. (1996) in finding mixed support for the unidimensionality issue. Given the relative consistency of this observation, perhaps it is time for Gottfredson and Hirschi to abandon their emphasis on this relatively minor component of their theory and focus their energy on the roles of parenting and opportunity, which receive less clear attention in their book. The effects of the parenting variables on the genesis of selfcontrol also garner mixed support. The parental supervision scale, which most closely follows Gottfredson and Hirschi's theoretical dictates, was not found to be significantly related to selfcontrol; however, the parental attachment scale was found to be significantly and positively related to self-control. With the exception of Polakowski (1994) and Wood et al. (1993), no other research and attempts have addressed the issue of the origins of self-control. Thus, although there seems to be a connection between parenting and self-control, more research is needed to precisely target the factors and processes involved. As predicted, a direct inverse relationship was found between self-control and academic dishonesty. Most of the research into the theory has focused on testing the predictive value of selfcontrol on a variety of forms of criminal or analogous behaviors. These studies consistently find similar results supportive of Gottfredson and Hirschi's assertion regarding the effects of selfcontrol. In the present study, in fact, self-control was found to be the strongest predictor of cheating; however, the models accounted for only a small percentage of the variance in academic dishonestyanother consistent finding across the

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research. For instance, Grasmick et al. (1993) also found that a large amount of the variance in crime could not be accounted for by self-control, and that other variables that affect crime but are omitted from Gottfredson and Hirschi's theory, such as rational choice and motivation, perform better and perhaps should be integrated into their general theory. Few studies have tested for the interaction effect between opportunity and self-control, which Gottfredson and Hirschi propose. In this study, we found evidence of such an effect; students with low self-control were more likely to engage in acts of academic dishonesty under conditions of opportunity, measured as the number of credit hours enrolled. Grasmick et al. (1993) also found evidence of an interactive effect of low selfcontrol and their measure of opportunity on a respondent's inclination to engage in future acts of force or fraud. Similarly, Piquero and Tibbetts (1996) tested a model integrating selfcontrol and situational factors in the commission of crimes analogous to criminal opportunities; they too found support for an interaction effect between low self-control and opportunity on crime. Clearly, however, additional research on this critical component of the theory is still needed, because as Grasmick and his colleagues (1993) note, few criminological theories explicitly predict interactive effects. In sum, this research has expanded the scope of Gottfredson and Hirschi's theory by testing it against self-report data on academic dishonesty, a form of fraudulent behavior for which a general theory of criminal and analogous acts should be able to predict. Moreover, we test a wide range of core theoretical propositions derived from the theory. Although our results are rather mixed, they are far from inconsistent. Instead, similar to the previous efforts toward these ends, our study finds qualified support for the theory. The qualified support we find for the theory, the consistency between our findings and those of other studies that came before us, and the various critiques of the theory (e.g., Barlow 1991; Akers 1991, 1994; Curran and Renzetti 1994; Reed and Yeager 1996), all suggest areas for additional research and where Gottfredson and Hirschi might choose to modify their theory. We would be remiss, however, if we did not include a discussion of the various methodological limitations that may have influenced the findings we report, some of which we suspect may be endemic to testing this theory. The lack of clear oper-

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ational definitions and guidelines for the measurement of key theoretical concepts offered by Cottfredson and Hirschi have made testing this intriguing theory a definite challenge. In an attempt to find an acceptable measure of self-control, several studies, including ours, have relied on the original measures developed by Grasmick et al. (1993) and/or Wood et al. (1993). Although this speaks highly of the creative insights of these original researchers and of the reliability of their measures, the consistently modest performance of these indicators points to the need for a little risk-taking by other researchers. It may be time to break new ground and develop alternative measures of low self-control.5 Although we use a measure of opportunity to test for the proposed self-control opportunity interaction and find support for this interaction effect, we are uneasy about the face validity of this measure. Nevertheless, we feel our measure is as strong as (or as weak as) those used by others. Again, it is difficult to develop sound measures of this concept due to the lack of clear operational definitions offered by Gottfredson and Hirschi. Hence, more specific indicators of this elusive component are still needed, and future research efforts should move toward this end. Gottfredson and Hirschi have reintroduced exciting concepts in the etiology of crime and deviance, yet their disinclination to offer clear operational guidelines has made the researcher's task somewhat daunting. There seems to be something there, the consistency of the research efforts hint at support for the theory, yet we continue to be unable to firmly grasp and understand the factors and processes that lead to and from selfcontrol. Although the scope and parsimony of the theory appeal to our desire to find an explanation for crime, the difficulties and challenges of empirically testing the theory have hindered more rapid acceptance of it. Perhaps it is time for Gottfredson and Hirschi or some other risk-taker(s) to further refine the theory so that it is more falsifiable. One wonders why this provocative theory has been left to limp along.
5 Hirschi and Gottfredson (1993), in their commentary on the Grasmick et al. (1993) and Keane et al. (1993) articles, stated a clear preference for. the behavioral indicators of low selfcontrol used by Keane and his colleagues over the subjective measures developed by Grasmick. However, the scale developed by Grasmick overcomes the tautological nature of most behavioral indicators.

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