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Impulsivity, Offending, and the Neighborhood: Investigating the Person-Context Nexus

NCJ Number
Journal of Quantitative Criminology Volume: 26 Issue: 3 Dated: September 2010 Pages: 301-332
Date Published
September 2010
32 pages
This study examined how impulsivity interacts with independently measured neighborhood-level social processes, collective efficacy, criminogenic behavior settings, and legal/moral cynicism, to produce criminal behavior.
The traditional trait-based approach to the study of crime has been challenged for its failure to acknowledge differences in the social environments to which individuals are exposed. Similarly, community-level explanations of crime have been criticized for failing to take into account important individual differences between criminals and non-criminals. Ultimately, a full understanding of crime requires the consideration of both individual and environmental differences, perhaps most importantly because they may interact to produce offending behavior. Yet little criminological research has examined if the effects of individual-level characteristics vary by the context in which they are embedded. The current study addresses this gap in the literature by using multivariate, multilevel item response models to examine if the influence of impulsivity on offending differs as a function of neighborhood context. Analyses using data from the Project of Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods reveals that the effects of impulsivity are amplified in neighborhoods with higher levels of socioeconomic status and collective efficacy, and lower levels of criminogenic behavior settings and moral/legal cynicism. Implications of these findings for research and policy are discussed. Tables, figures, and references (Published Abstract)

Date Published: September 1, 2010