An examination of self-control and the family structure


Bleininger, Melissa S. (2016). An examination of self-control and the family structure.


Michael Gottfredson and Travis Hirschi are the leading authorities concerning a major criminological theory called the general theory of crime (1990). The main theoretical assumption is that self-control is related to criminal behavior (Gottfredson and Hirschi 1990). According to Gottfredson and Hirschi (1990), parental attachment is the greatest influence on the development of self-control. Due to the concern that other factors could also be important for self-control than parental attachment, some researchers have examined other influences (e.g., Hope, Grasmick, and Pointon, 2003). My research investigates the association of self-control with family structure, frequency of religious practice, participation in hobbies, and sports participation. I hypothesize that these factors have a significant influence on self-control development, in addition to parental attachment. I used The National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health) to analyze bivariate correlations, independent-samples t-tests, and regressions. My results support Gottfredson and Hirschi’s (1990) theory in that parental attachment is the greatest influence on self-control. However, I discovered that religious practices and participation in hobbies and sports are also positively related to self-control. Additionally, I discovered that family structure is related to self-control, albeit a smaller influence than parental attachment. While my research supported Gottfredson and Hirschi’s theory, future researcher should examine other variables to see what additional factors are related to self-control. This thesis is organized as follows: Chapter one is the introduction to my thesis, that gives a brief background on self-control and delinquency, parental socialization, self-control, family arrangements, and structured activities. Chapter two is the literature review which discusses what self-control is, previous research variables, findings, and limitations. Additionally, chapter two states my six hypotheses. For chapter three, I discuss the methodology used in my thesis including the data set, the sample, and the variables tested. Chapter four includes my results from the three analyses used to test my six hypotheses and they were bivariate correlations, independent samples t-test, and regression. The final chapter, chapter five, is the conclusion and discussion of my findings and limitations.


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Bleininger, Melissa S.

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Kent State

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