Simons and Burt's (2011) social schematic theory (SST) of crime posits that adverse social factors are associated with offending because they promote a set of social schemas (i.e., a criminogenic knowledge structure) that elevates the probability of situational definitions favorable to crime. This study extends the SST model by incorporating the role of contexts for action. Furthermore, the study advances tests of the SST by incorporating a measure of criminogenic situational definitions to assess whether such definitions mediate the effects of schemas and contexts on crime. Structural equation models using 10 years of panel data from 582 African American youth provided strong support for the expanded theory. The results suggest that childhood and adolescent social adversity fosters a criminogenic knowledge structure as well as selection into criminogenic activity spaces and risky activities, all of which increase the likelihood of offending largely through situational definitions. Additionally, evidence shows that the criminogenic knowledge structure interacts with settings to amplify the likelihood of situational definitions favorable to crime.
- Action contexts
- Criminal propensity
- Routine activities
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pathology and Forensic Medicine