Low self-control and the Dark Triad: Disentangling the predictive power of personality traits on young adult substance use, offending and victimization

Jamie L. Flexon, Ryan C. Meldrum, Jacob Young, Peter S. Lehmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations

Abstract

Purpose To evaluate Gottfredson and Hirschi's (1990) spuriousness thesis by focusing on the virtue of alternative psychologically based constructs in explaining substance use, offending and victimization beyond low self-control. Methods Data from several hundred young adults were analyzed using structural equation modeling to evaluate the argument that personality traits are immaterial to explaining malignant behaviors beyond low self-control. To achieve this, the Dark Triad of personality was introduced in models alongside low self-control to explain the varied outcomes. Results Structural equation modeling demonstrated that those with low self-control are more likely to engage in substance abuse whereas those exhibiting Dark Triad traits were not. Low self-control and the Dark Triad independently predicted criminal offending, but only the Dark Triad predicted victimization, controlling for low self-control. Conclusions The spuriousness thesis was not supported in this research. Specifically, the contention that alternative personality traits beyond low self-control bear no virtue in explaining crime or victimization was challenged by this work. The Dark Triad of personality is a promising constellation of personality traits linked to crime and victimization that criminologists can exploit to inform further research and theory.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)159-169
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Criminal Justice
Volume46
DOIs
StatePublished - 2016

Keywords

  • Crime
  • Dark triad
  • Low self-control
  • Spuriousness thesis
  • Victimization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Social Psychology
  • Law
  • Sociology and Political Science

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