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Modern Control Theory and the Limits of Criminal Justice$
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Michael Gottfredson and Travis Hirschi

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780190069797

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190069797.001.0001

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Methods and Measures in Testing a General Theory of Crime

Methods and Measures in Testing a General Theory of Crime

Chapter:
(p.31) Chapter 2 Methods and Measures in Testing a General Theory of Crime
Source:
Modern Control Theory and the Limits of Criminal Justice
Author(s):

Michael Gottfredson

Travis Hirschi

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780190069797.003.0002

Self control is a consistent, robust, and substantial cause of crime, and the foundational facts and other dimensions of the self-control theory of crime have found remarkable support in behavioral science. However, not all scholars view the evidence in the same way, and there have been several challenges to the expectations of the theory that merit consideration. Some of these challenges are important for what they say about the limits and contours of the theory; others are important for what they say about the process of theory testing in modern criminology. This chapter discusses methodological issues in testing general theories in criminology. This is followed by a discussion on how to conceptualize control variables and antecedent causes for research. Next, the scope and domain of a theory as relevant to its validity are discussed. In addition, the importance of the definitions of self control and crime is presented. The roles of prior record and of versatility in theory testing are then examined. Finally, a discussion of the tautology issue in self-control theory is presented.

Keywords:   crime, theory testing, crime theory, self-control theory, self control

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