A consequential development in victimization theory and research was the idea that individuals with low self-control self-select into the various risky behaviors that may ultimately result in their victimization. To establish the empirical status of the self-control-victimization link, we subjected this body of work to a meta-analysis. Our multilevel analyses of 311 effect size estimates drawn from 66 studies (42 independent data sets) indicate that self-control is a modest yet consistent predictor of victimization. The results also show that the effect of self-control is significantly stronger when predicting noncontact forms of victimization (e.g., online victimization) and is significantly reduced in studies that control directly for the risky behaviors that are assumed to mediate the self-control-victimization link. We also note that the studies assessing self-control and victimization are not representative of victimization research as a whole, with intimate partner violence (IPV), violence against women, and child abuse being severely underrepresented. We conclude that future research should continue to examine the causal processes linking self-control to victimization, how self-control shapes victims' coping responses to their experience, and whether self-control matters in contexts where individuals may have limited autonomy over the behavioral routines that put them at risk for victimization.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pathology and Forensic Medicine