Age-Graded Differences and Parental Influences on Adolescents’ Obligation to Obey the Law

Adam Fine, April Thomas, Benjamin van Rooij, Elizabeth Cauffman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Purpose: Legal socialization is the study of how individuals develop their attitudes towards the law and its authorities. While research on perceptions of legal authorities has increased, studies have not adequately examined developmental trends in youths’ obligation to obey the law in particular. Methods: This study uses a cross-sectional sample of 218 adolescent-parent dyads in two states and utilizes two assessment strategies for the obligation to obey the law. Results: The results indicate that paralleling the age-crime curve, the obligation to obey the law exhibits a curvilinear trend, declining during adolescence before increasing into adulthood. Second, parental perceptions of the obligation to obey the law were consistently associated with their children’s obligation to obey the law throughout adolescence. Conclusions: Development and intergenerational socialization emerge as vital components in understanding youths’ perceived obligation to obey the law.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Developmental and Life-Course Criminology
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2020



  • Legal socialization
  • Legitimacy
  • Obligation to obey the law
  • Parenting

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Law
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies

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