Reconsidering the effect of self-control and delinquent peers: Implications of measurement for theoretical significance

Ryan C. Meldrum, Jacob T.N. Young, Frank M. Weerman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

97 Scopus citations


Prior research examining the effect of self-control and delinquent peers on crime suggests that both variables are strong correlates and that controlling for one fails to eliminate the effects of the other. Yet prior research was based on indirect and possibly biased indicators of peer delinquency. Recent research using direct measures of delinquent peers, as reported by respondents' peers themselves, indicates that the relationship between peer delinquency and self-reported delinquency is smaller than when respondents report on their peers' behavior. The present study extends this line of work by examining the effect of self-control on delinquency when controlling for these two measures of delinquent peers. The results indicate that the effect of self-control is greater in magnitude in models using the direct measure of peer delinquency relative to models that rely on the traditional measure of delinquent peers. An interaction between self-control and the direct measure of peer delinquency was also found. Implications for future theory testing are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)353-376
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Research in Crime and Delinquency
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 1 2009



  • Delinquent peers
  • Self-control
  • Social networks

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology

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