Longitudinal and reciprocal relations between delay discounting and crime.

TitleLongitudinal and reciprocal relations between delay discounting and crime.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2017
JournalPersonality and individual differences
Date Published2017

Theorists argue that self-control failure is the underlying cause of criminal behavior, with previous research linking poor self-control to delinquency and drug use. The path from self-control to crime is well-established, but less is known about whether criminal behavior contributes to self-control deficits over time. We investigated bi-directional relations between self-control assessed via a delay discounting task and self-reported crime over a three-year period. During their first, second (73.38% retention rate), and third (63.12% retention rate) years of college, 526 undergraduates completed a delay discounting task and reported on their criminal behavior. In order to maximize variability, participants with conduct problems were overrecruited, comprising 23.1% of the final sample. As expected, more discounting of hypothetical monetary rewards significantly predicted future property crime across a one and two-year period, even when controlling for initial levels of both. This study also demonstrated evidence of a bi-directional relationship; violent crime predicted higher rates of delay discounting one year later. These results suggest that bi-directional relations exist between self-control and types of crime.

Short TitlePers Individ Dif
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