Incarcerated Adolescent Girls: Personality, Social Competence, and Delinquency

By ter Laak, Jan; de Goede, Martijn et al. | Adolescence, Summer 2003 | Go to article overview

Incarcerated Adolescent Girls: Personality, Social Competence, and Delinquency


ter Laak, Jan, de Goede, Martijn, Aleva, Liesbeth, Brugman, Gerard, van Leuven, Miranda, Hussmann, Judith, Adolescence


There are several theories that try to explain juvenile delinquency. The present study confines itself to investigating personality traits and social competence as predictors of delinquency in adolescent girls.

Personality Traits as Predictors of Delinquency

Eysenck (1964, 1976) and Eysenck and Eysenck (1985) suggested that, compared to nondelinquents, delinquents are more extroverted, neurotic, and tough-minded (psychoticism). The last factor can be seen as a combination of low agreeableness and low conscientiousness, which, together with extroversion, neuroticism, and openness to experience (or autonomy), are known as the Big Five personality factors (Costa & McCrae, 1992; Hendriks, 1997). Furnham and Thompson's (1991) study on how personality correlates with crime indicated that there is a relationship between delinquency and psychoticism. They found a lack of consistency with respect to extroversion and neuroticism.

Heaven (1996), investigating the relationship between the Big Five and delinquency, found that neuroticism and conscientiousness were significantly associated with the level of delinquency in high school students, while extroversion and openness were not. John, Caspi, Robins, Moffit, and Stouthamer-Loeber (1994), examining delinquency in 12- to 13-year-old boys, found that a high level of delinquency was accompanied by low levels of agreeableness and conscientiousness. A high level of delinquency was also related to a high level of the sensation-seeking facet of extroversion, while neuroticism and delinquency were not related. Wit and Van Aken (1998) reported that incarcerated adolescent boys who were treated in a residential institution scored higher on conscientiousness and neuroticism, and lower on agreeableness, than did a nondelinquent control group.

Elements of Gottfredson and Hirschi's (1990) general theory of crime can be considered to support the position that personality traits are predictive of delinquency. For example, the results of a meta-analysis by Pratt and Cullen (2000) suggested that low self-control was a good predictor of crime. Low self-control included the following factors: lack of resistance to immediate gratification, impulsiveness, insensitiveness, physical risk taking, shortsightedness, and being unable to express problems. These low self-control factors were described as stable individual characteristics. They also partly resembled the description of a personality trait, and Pratt and Cullen's meta-analysis found that a trait-opportunity or trait-situation relationship was present. Inclusion of the situation or opportunity improved the power of the control variable to predict criminal behavior.

Social Competence in Delinquents

Psychologists often stress the fact that juvenile delinquents lack the social skills needed to solve interpersonal problems. For example, Gaffney and McFall (1981) found that delinquent adolescent girls resolved their social problems less adequately than did a comparable nondelinquent group. This and similar findings paved the way for the inclusion of social skills training as part of rehabilitation programs for juvenile delinquents (see Gendreau & Ross, 1987).

However, Eysenck (1976) indicated that some delinquents are more, not less, socially competent than the average person. He distinguished "criminals to their fingertips" from those "who simply cannot get by in our complex society" (p. 115). Specifically, successful delinquents need social, organizational, and computational skills to estimate the risks involved in criminal acts (i.e., to succeed, they must conduct a cost-benefit analysis of criminal activities). This hypothesis is in accord with rational choice theory, which suggests that criminals think rationally and strategically to accrue the benefits of their crime (e.g., money, goods, excitement, belonging to a group, respect of other criminals; see Cornish & Clarke, 1986). …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Incarcerated Adolescent Girls: Personality, Social Competence, and Delinquency
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.