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How Well Do Criminologists Explain Crime? Statistical Modeling in Published Studies

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Abstract

Understanding of the phenomenon of crime lies at the heart of criminology. A century and a half of theory and research has accumulated, but there does not yet exist an evaluation of how much explanatory power (summarized as the amount of variance explained) there is in criminological research. Examination of empirical tests of criminological theory in Criminology between 1968 and 2005 yields three key findings. The overall level of variance explained is often very low with 80 or 90 percent unexplained. There has been no improvement over time. Individual-based models provide relatively weak explanatory power, but models that took a more crime-specific focus indicated some strength. Criminologists will need to pay much more attention to "what is not explained" in criminological modeling if they are to make significant advances in understanding crime.

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... Those operating within a scientific framework have labored extensively for over a century to produce knowledge about crime. Despite these efforts, serious criticisms exist surrounding the current stock of scientific knowledge within the field, with perhaps the most significant criticism being that criminological theories are weak at explaining crime (see, e.g., Weisburd and Piquero 2008). This criticism is not new. ...
... The 1970s and 1980s saw a period in which integrated theories attempted to advance scientific knowledge, but these theories were harshly rebuked for their logical inadequacies. In the 1990s a new wave of theories-such as self-control theory , general strain theory (Agnew 1992), and control balance theory -created a new sense of optimism for criminological theory. 1 This optimism, however, was short-lived and by the 2000s concerns over theoretical progress within criminological theory were again renewed (see, e.g., Bursik 2009;Cullen 2011;Laub , 2006Weisburd and Piquero 2008;. At present, there is a general sense of malaise surrounding criminological theory, and an open secret within the field is that few are genuinely satisfied with the current stock of scientific criminological theories. ...
... 4 Turner (2010), for example, contends that the micro, meso, and macro-levels of analysis are ontologically real layers of social reality, with each possessing their own unique dynamics. 5 Many criticisms have been lodged about the low explained variance (e.g., R 2 ) of theoretical knowledge claims within criminology (see, e.g., Weisburd and Piquero 2008). As Weisburd and Piquero (2008) note, however, statistical measures of model fit are contingent upon proper model specification. ...
Book
The science of criminology is at a crossroads. Despite accumulating a dizzying array of facts about crime, the field has yet to identify a body of theories that allows for the adequate prediction, explanation, and control of phenomena of central interest to criminologists. Mechanistic Criminology locates this problem within the field’s failure to conform to the expectations of scientific fields and reliance on antiquated methods of theory construction. The authors contend that this failure has resulted in an inability of criminologists to engage in theory falsification and competition—two central activities of science—that produce the forms of reliable knowledge that are unique to scientific fields. Mechanistic Criminology advocates for the adoption of a mechanistic mode of theorizing to allow criminologists to engage in theory falsification and competition and ignite rapid scientific discovery in the field. The proposed method is the same one employed within the biological sciences, which is responsible for their rapid scientific progress in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. Should criminologists adopt this mechanistic approach, criminology could experience the same scientific revolution that is occurring in the biological sciences, and criminologists would generate the knowledge necessary for the prediction, explanation, and control of crime.
... Burglary, specifically, is a crime that thrives in socially disorganized and less cohesive communities (Weisburd & Piquero, 2008). It is likely that disorganized neighborhoods tend to have higher burglary crime rates because of weaker social cohesion than affluent areas where strong social connectedness facilitates the ability of residents to be on the lookout for criminal behavior (Dunaway, Cullen, Burton, & Evans, 2000). ...
... (2) Y = 0 + 1 X 1 + 2 X 2 + 3 X 3 +…+ n X n + TA B L E 1 The core components of crime and community cohesion, and the variables used to represent them in the model -14, 15, 16-17, 18-19, 20-24, 25-29, 30-44, 45-59, 60-64, 65-74 Family structure Lone parent, no dependent; Lone parent, one dependent child; Lone parent, two or more dependent children; Married couple, no children; Married couple, one dependent child; Married couple, two or more children Residence length Length of residence: Less than 2 years; Less than 5 years; More than 5 years; 10 years and above; Born in the UK model performance and reliability (Wang, 1996). There is no standard rule for filtering out variables based on the ...
... It is common practice to assess the appropriateness of a model using the coefficient of determination, although this is not an absolute indicator of goodness of fit (Reisinger, 1997) and a low effect size does not mean that the model is inefficient (Martin, 2014;Weisburd & Piquero, 2008). Although the analysis explained approximately 24% of the variation in burglary crime, that is good compared to other studies: Zhao, Lawton, and Longmire (2015), Karyda (2015), Hino, Uesugi, and Asami (2016), and Boateng (2016) have models explaining 21%, 10%, 14%, and 12%, respectively. ...
Article
Diversity within a population has been linked to levels of both social cohesion and crime. Neighborhood crimes are the result of a complex set of factors, one of which is weak community cohesion. This article seeks to explore the impacts of diversity on burglary crime in a range of neighborhoods, using Leeds, UK as a case study. We propose a new approach to quantifying the correlates of burglary in urban areas through the use of diversity metrics. This approach is useful in unveiling the relationship between burglary and diversity in urban communities. Specifically, we employ stepwise multiple regression models to quantify the relationships between a number of neighborhood diversity variables and burglary crime rates. The results of the analyses show that the variables that represent diversity were more significant when regressed against burglary crime rates than standard socio‐demographic data traditionally used in crime studies, which do not generally use diversity variables. The findings of this study highlight the importance of neighborhood cohesion in the crime system, and the key place for diversity statistics in quantifying the relationships between neighborhood diversities and burglary. The study highlights the importance of policy planning aimed at encouraging community building in promoting neighborhood safety.
... With regard to model statistics, the likelihood ratios indicate that each Poisson regression is significant as a whole. The pseudo-R 2 s found in Poisson regressions are not equivalent to the R 2 s found in OLS regressions, and cannot be interpreted in the same way (i.e., as a percentage of overall explained variation; Coxe et al. 2009;Weisburd and Piquero 2008). However, pseudo-R 2 s can be used to compare models that explain the same outcome and employ the same sample (D'unger et al. 1998), as larger values are still indicative of better fit. ...
... However, not being able to explain a large part of the variance is in line with the observation that it is a difficult challenge for authorities to identify firms, based on observable characteristics, that are likely to be non-compliant. This is also consistent with the broader observation that empirical models in criminology tend to have limited explanatory power (for a discussion, see Weisburd and Piquero 2008). ...
Article
Full-text available
OBJECTIVE: Industry actors (organizations, associations) can influence the way in which firms comply with regulations. This study examines how this influence process is affected by government intervention. METHODS: Using official, anonymized data from the entire industry of financial intermediation in the Netherlands (N = 8655 firms), we examine how firms’ affiliations with industry actors relate to (1) voluntary actions aligned with improving regulatory compliance (e.g., requesting audits, attending workshops), and (2) law violations. Industry actors are distinguished between trade associations and the industry’s self-regulatory organization (SRO), which is subject to more government intervention. The analysis employs Poisson regressions to explain count variables, and bootstrapping to assess indirect associations. A series of robustness tests focus on relevant sub-samples, employ exact matching to address possible self-selection, and incorporate lagged dependent variables. RESULTS: The association between affiliations with industry actors and law violations is negative and significant. This association is more indirect for trade associations than for the SRO (i.e., it is more strongly mediated by the voluntary actions firms take and which help to improve compliance). CONCLUSIONS: These findings go in line with the theory that government intervention makes industry-self regulation more mandated and less voluntary. Under less government intervention, industry actors may promote more voluntary efforts to comply.
... For instance, if we restrict learning to operate only for the 85% of classified learners, then the theory explains almost 75% of the variance in alcohol use. This is a crucial finding when placed against the backdrop that empirical models often yield poor explained outcome variance (e.g., see Weisburd & Piquero, 2008). Our results suggest that explained variance in an outcome may be more promising when statistical models permit individuals to be influenced differentially by theories. ...
... 1. Statistical models, on average, explain only approximately 40% of crime variation but this appears to differ somewhat across units of analysis (see Weisburd & Piquero, 2008). 2. The deterrence doctrine also makes the same assumption about human nature and maintains that swift, certain, and adequately severe sanctions serve to deter offenders from engaging in crime (Beccaria, 1986). ...
Article
The current study uses finite mixture models (FMMs) to examine whether competing theories—social learning and social control—are differentially applicable to individuals. Posterior probabilities reveal that 85% of individuals are most consistent with social learning theory (“learners”), whereas 15% are most consistent with social bonding theory (“bonders”). Relative to bonders, learners have significantly lower alcohol consumption and alcohol use risk—as denoted by learning and bonding variables. Results reveal generally stronger variable effects in the FMM as compared with the full-sample ordinary-least-squares (OLS) regression, particularly for differential association and belief. OLS regressions among classified subsamples resulted in substantial gains in explained variance among learners but no improvements among bonders. Implications of differential applicability of theories for assessments of theoretical validity and policy development are discussed.
... First, improving the current understanding of crime is a long process. Weisburd and Piquero (2008) note that, after a century and a half of research, our traditional approaches to falsifying theories, revising existing theories, and staking out new theories of crime have yet to reach a point where criminologists can sufficiently explain crime. Their research also indicates that our ability to explain crime, as reported in the criminological literature, has shown little improvement over the past several decades (Weisburd & Piquero, 2008). ...
... Weisburd and Piquero (2008) note that, after a century and a half of research, our traditional approaches to falsifying theories, revising existing theories, and staking out new theories of crime have yet to reach a point where criminologists can sufficiently explain crime. Their research also indicates that our ability to explain crime, as reported in the criminological literature, has shown little improvement over the past several decades (Weisburd & Piquero, 2008). Identifying new risk factors that can considerably enhance the current understanding of criminal behavior might not be the best strategy for criminal justice leaders and executives seeking immediate solutions to improve the predictive accuracy of risk assessment instruments. ...
Chapter
Full-text available
The link below provide a full text: https://books.google.com/books?id=VTd6DQAAQBAJ&pg=PT158&lpg=PT158&dq=Improving+the+Performance+of+Risk+Assessments:+A+Case+Study+on+the+Prediction+of+Sexual+Offending+among+Juvenile+Offenders&source=bl&ots=8Wdyo7pc3M&sig=mnr0odPY2-ZGATo4tL5sbc4UqxE&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiv0uKp5-jTAhXm6IMKHbqqD1QQ6AEIIzAA#v=onepage&q=Improving%20the%20Performance%20of%20Risk%20Assessments%3A%20A%20Case%20Study%20on%20the%20Prediction%20of%20Sexual%20Offending%20among%20Juvenile%20Offenders&f=false
... However, there is something of an aetiological crisis in criminology as the discourse has failed to provide reliable causal accounts (Young 1986). Weisburd and Piquero (2008) further extend this point when they note in their study that the explanatory power of even the most sophisticated criminological theories, employing the most robust and advanced statistical models/ tests, put forward in the last century and a half is very low. ...
... Such a move would, to a degree, solve the problems thus far described and therefore render this book superfluous. However, as Magnani (2001) notes in general, and Weisburd and Piquero (2008) point out explicitly in criminology, not only do the forms of probabilistic/statistical models utilised to infer to the best explanation largely fail in terms of their explanatory power, but also they do so because their logics are fundamentally deductive. Hypothesis creation may well involve inductive (Popper 1968) or abductive (Walton 2005) processes but statistical analyses, in general, do not (Burgess 1998). ...
Book
This text offers a novel contribution to criminological theory by introducing the complex issues relating to the structuring and analysing of causation. Warr traces the paradigm shift, or drift, that has occurred in the history of criminology and shows how the problem of causation has been a leading factor in these theoretical developments. This is an introductory text which presents both seasoned criminologists as well as students with the interesting intersections between the fields of criminology and the philosophy of the social sciences. The problem of causation is notoriously difficult and has plagued philosophers and scientists for centuries. Warr highlights the importance of grappling with this problem and demonstrates how it can lead to unsuccessful theorising. This accessible account will be a must-read for scholars of criminal justice, penology and philosophy of social science. Jason Warr is a Lecturer in Criminology at the University of Lincoln, UK, with interests in penology, sociology of power and the philosophy of science. He holds an HEA teaching fellowship and teaches across criminology, penology and research methods.
... However, there is something of an aetiological crisis in criminology as the discourse has failed to provide reliable causal accounts (Young 1986). Weisburd and Piquero (2008) further extend this point when they note in their study that the explanatory power of even the most sophisticated criminological theories, employing the most robust and advanced statistical models/ tests, put forward in the last century and a half is very low. ...
... Such a move would, to a degree, solve the problems thus far described and therefore render this book superfluous. However, as Magnani (2001) notes in general, and Weisburd and Piquero (2008) point out explicitly in criminology, not only do the forms of probabilistic/statistical models utilised to infer to the best explanation largely fail in terms of their explanatory power, but also they do so because their logics are fundamentally deductive. Hypothesis creation may well involve inductive (Popper 1968) or abductive (Walton 2005) processes but statistical analyses, in general, do not (Burgess 1998). ...
Chapter
This chapter is concerned with proposing, or revisiting, a model of causation that would be sophisticated enough for the purposes of contemporary, complex causal theorising. It will be argued that the suggested mechanism, an adaptation of Mackie’s INUS model, is an adequate causal model for criminology theorising. It shall be shown that this particular model, whilst not novel, works by explicitly defining not only that which can be counted as causal but also how a causal factor must fit into the structure of the mechanism. Also, it explicates not only how this model is more suited to contemporary integrated forms of theorising that arise in contemporary criminology but also how the INUS conditions solve many of the problems, such as the confusion between correlates and causes, that besets the Humean causal ontology. The chapter also explores some of the criticisms and problems that this causal explanation may face.
... However, there is something of an aetiological crisis in criminology as the discourse has failed to provide reliable causal accounts (Young 1986). Weisburd and Piquero (2008) further extend this point when they note in their study that the explanatory power of even the most sophisticated criminological theories, employing the most robust and advanced statistical models/ tests, put forward in the last century and a half is very low. ...
... Such a move would, to a degree, solve the problems thus far described and therefore render this book superfluous. However, as Magnani (2001) notes in general, and Weisburd and Piquero (2008) point out explicitly in criminology, not only do the forms of probabilistic/statistical models utilised to infer to the best explanation largely fail in terms of their explanatory power, but also they do so because their logics are fundamentally deductive. Hypothesis creation may well involve inductive (Popper 1968) or abductive (Walton 2005) processes but statistical analyses, in general, do not (Burgess 1998). ...
Chapter
The purpose of this chapter is to establish the problem with which the book is concerned. As such the focus of this chapter is to supply answers to the following question: why is a poor understanding of causal mechanisms, and causal explanations, a problem for theoretical criminology? I then set out the four main reasons why a poor understanding of causal argument is indeed a problem for criminology and how these issues can impact on understanding, theory design, data analysis and the age-old problem of distinguishing between causes and correlates.
... Frequently, reservations about empirical generalizations are less about the nature of accumulated results, and more about the fact that the observational nature of data sets in criminology makes it challenging to statistically identify the point estimate for causal effects. This presents obstacles to credible inference that must contextualize our empirical generalizations and their implications for theory (e.g., Manski 2008;Rubin 2008;Weisburd and Piquero 2008). ...
... Importantly, the method we employed provides useful comparators because we could benchmark the effect necessary to do away with a focal relationship to commonly-used explanatory factors that have fairly intuitive relationships to the core variables involved. Although criminologists have encountered difficulties in explaining crime and other deviant behaviors, as is evidenced by the relatively low explanatory power of predictive models (Weisburd and Piquero 2008), there are nevertheless a host of extensively studied and robust risk factors that can act as informative benchmarks when assessing relationships among criminological constructs (e.g., age, gender, self-control, prior delinquency). Substantively, the results point to a consistent peer effect of at least modest size that would be rendered spurious only with the introduction of unreasonably large unobserved factors lurking above and beyond well-known confounders such as low self-control, weakened social bonds and prior delinquency. ...
Article
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Objective Criminologists have long questioned how fragile our statistical inferences are to unobserved bias when testing criminological theories. This study demonstrates that sensitivity analyses offer a statistical approach to help assess such concerns with two empirical examples—delinquent peer influence and school commitment. Methods Data from the Gang Resistance Education and Training are used with models that: (1) account for theoretically-relevant controls; (2) incorporate lagged dependent variables and; (3) account for fixed-effects. We use generalized sensitivity analysis (Harada in ISA: Stata module to perform Imbens’ (2003) sensitivity analysis, 2012; Imbens in Am Econ Rev 93(2):126–132, 2003) to estimate the size of unobserved heterogeneity necessary to render delinquent peer influence and school commitment statistically non-significant and substantively weak and compare these estimates to covariates in order to gauge the likely existence of such bias. ResultsUnobserved bias would need to be unreasonably large to render the peer effect statistically non-significant for violence and substance use, though less so to reduce it to a weak effect. The observed effect of school commitment on delinquency is much more fragile to unobserved heterogeneity. Conclusion Questions over the sensitivity of inferences plague criminology. This paper demonstrates the utility of sensitivity analysis for criminological theory testing in determining the robustness of estimated effects.
... However, there is something of an aetiological crisis in criminology as the discourse has failed to provide reliable causal accounts (Young 1986). Weisburd and Piquero (2008) further extend this point when they note in their study that the explanatory power of even the most sophisticated criminological theories, employing the most robust and advanced statistical models/ tests, put forward in the last century and a half is very low. ...
... Such a move would, to a degree, solve the problems thus far described and therefore render this book superfluous. However, as Magnani (2001) notes in general, and Weisburd and Piquero (2008) point out explicitly in criminology, not only do the forms of probabilistic/statistical models utilised to infer to the best explanation largely fail in terms of their explanatory power, but also they do so because their logics are fundamentally deductive. Hypothesis creation may well involve inductive (Popper 1968) or abductive (Walton 2005) processes but statistical analyses, in general, do not (Burgess 1998). ...
Chapter
This chapter is concerned with the second section of this book: namely, the apparent paradigm shift/drift, in relation to causal explanations, that has occurred, and continues to occur, within the discourse of criminology. Utilising the notion of paradigm shift as introduced by Thomas Kuhn, this chapter examines why criminological theory has changed and developed. As such, various forms of criminological theory (including Life Course, Routine Activity and Developmental Life Cours`e) that have tried to move away from the Humean form of theorising will be explicated. It will be shown how this theory development has led to dissatisfaction with contemporary causal modelling and the search for ever greater explanatory power. It is this facet of theorising that is evidence of a paradigm shift within the field of criminology.
... In fact, some forms of impulsivity may be 'heroic,' such as quickly saving a person's life (see Rand and Epstein, 2014). A more nuanced conceptualization of impulsivity may help improve the explanatory power of self-control theory (Weisburd and Piquero, 2008). ...
... This view of self-control is similar to Murray's earlier conception, viewing individuals with low self-control as quick acting without reflection (Murray, 1938). Self-control theory has received widespread empirical support (see, for example, Pratt and Cullen, 2000) but is limited in how well it explains antisocial behavior (Weisburd and Piquero, 2008). Although Gottfredson and Hirschi's (1990) concept of self-control included six distinctive characteristics, impulsivity, in particular, is an important component (Forrest et al., 2019). ...
Article
Traditionally, criminological research on impulsivity and crime assumes impulsivity is a uniform construct that is positively related to deviant behavior. However, psychological research on impulsivity indicates that the construct may have multiple forms, which vary in their relationship to antisocial behavior. One possibility that few studies have examined is whether some forms of impulsivity are unrelated, or negatively related, to antisocial behavior. This study uses Dickman’s (1990) functional and dysfunctional impulsivity scales and finds that dysfunctional impulsivity is a better predictor of crime than functional impulsivity, but does not differ for substance use or school deviance. These results highlight ways that impulsivity measures can be refined in the future.
... As criminological research has expanded in conjunction with the ongoing development of theory, different predictors and situational contexts have been realized as being of considerable importance into the initiation, maintenance, and desistance from crime. While significant advances in this work have considerably aided the explanation of deviance (see Piquero, Farrington, and Blumstein 2003;Weisburd and Piquero 2008 for an overview), the constant search for new ways of thinking about how various factors may relate to crime, recidivism, incarceration, and reincarceration serves as an ongoing reminder that criminologists have considerable difficulty explaining human behavior. ...
... As a response to relatively low explained variance statistics (see Weisburd and Piquero 2008), criminologists have bolstered the field's sociological underpinnings with concepts from other fields of science. Found throughout criminological theories (e.g., Burgess and Akers 1966), perhaps the most common field of academia from which criminologists borrow is psychology. ...
Article
Finding and securing employment is a huge challenge for those who have been released from prison. In this paper, we argue that carbon capture technology carries the unique potential to positively impact employment opportunities for those who are undergoing the reentry process. Notably, these careers exist nearly entirely in industries which already employ ex-felons. If carbon capture technology were implemented throughout the United States, our estimates suggest that ex-felons would be eligible for nearly 3.6 million careers. Many of these jobs would be created in industries which directly or indirectly support natural resource extraction, ethanol production, electricity generation, and iron, steel, and cement production. In addition to benefiting the economy, these careers would provide returning individuals with financial security and supportive, prosocial peer relationships. Accordingly, carbon capture carries the unique ability to promote environmental justice while simultaneously providing relief to a tremendously overburdened criminal justice system.
... Mapping formal crime types in relation to larger and larger lists of independently measured situational conditions is unlikely to rectify the problem since causal heterogeneity is an unavoidable byproduct of typological system itself. Indeed, one wonders whether the inability of criminology to make much progress in explaining crime has as much to do with the imperfections in crime typology as the failures of theory (Gibbs 1960:322-323;Weisburd and Piquero 2008). What is needed is an approach to crime classification that allows simultaneous scoring of multiple behavioral and situational conditions (Brennan 1987: 215). ...
Article
Full-text available
The classification of crime into discrete categories entails a massive loss of information. Crimes emerge out of a complex mix of behaviors and situations, yet most of these details cannot be captured by singular crime type labels. This information loss impacts our ability to not only understand the causes of crime, but also how to develop optimal crime prevention strategies. We apply machine learning methods to short narrative text descriptions accompanying crime records with the goal of discovering ecologically more meaningful latent crime classes. We term these latent classes "crime topics" in reference to text-based topic modeling methods that produce them. We use topic distributions to measure clustering among formally recognized crime types. Crime topics replicate broad distinctions between violent and property crime, but also reveal nuances linked to target characteristics, situational conditions and the tools and methods of attack. Formal crime types are not discrete in topic space. Rather, crime types are distributed across a range of crime topics. Similarly, individual crime topics are distributed across a range of formal crime types. Key ecological groups include identity theft, shoplifting, burglary and theft, car crimes and vandalism, criminal threats and confidence crimes, and violent crimes. Crime topic modeling positions behavioral situations as the focal unit of analysis for crime events. Though unlikely to replace formal legal crime classifications, crime topics provide a unique window into the heterogeneous causal processes underlying crime. We discuss whether automated procedures could be used to cross-check the quality of official crime classifications.
... This section starts by introducing key assumptions underlying neutral modeling. These assumptions are likely to be met with considerable outrage (see Rosindell, Hubbell, and Etienne, 2011), although the goal is to improve explanation (Weisburd and Piquero, 2008). The fourth section follows with a formal mathematical model for characterizing crime diversity generated by neutral processes (Arrhenius, 1921;Coleman, 1981;Connor and McCoy, 1979). ...
Article
Full-text available
Large geographic areas should host a greater diversity of crime compared with small geographic areas. This proposition is reasonable given that larger geographic areas should not only support more crime but also contain a greater diversity of criminogenic settings. This article uses a neutral model to characterize crime richness as a function of area. The model starts with two neutral assumptions: 1) that all environments are statistically equivalent and exert no influence on what types of crimes occur there; and 2) that different crime types occur independently of one another. The model produces rigorous predictions for the mean and variance in crime richness with increasing area. Tests of the model against a sample of 172,055 crimes occurring in Los Angeles during the year 2013 are qualitatively consistent with neutral expectations. The model is made quantitatively consistent by constant scaling. Resampling experiments show that at most 20 percent of the mean crime richness is attributable to nonrandom clustering and assortment of crime types. A modified neutral model allowing for variation crime concentration is consistent with observed variance in crime richness. The results suggest that very general and largely neutral laws may be driving crime diversity in space.
... Young (2011) confronts a wide swath of criminological investigation, highlighting the apparent down-trend of explained variance in intricate quantitative models published in leading journals. Weisburd and Piquero's (2008) examination of scholarship in criminology indicated that statistical models not only were overspecified, they evidenced a decreasing trend in statistical relevance; soberly they ask the question whether this escalating incapacity is the result of the failure of theory, of method and measurement, or of some larger phenomenon. Young's reply is as resounding as McAuliffe's "Nuts!" ...
... Yet, three decades later, the theoretical landscape has only become more clutteredtheories continue to be introduced and old ones refuse to die. Many theoretical approaches which are popular today actually do a poor job of explaining crime [14]. Thus, rather than simply tweaking old theories or combining perspectives in such a way that theories are added rather than dropped, it may be time to take a closer look at why existing theories are unable to adequately explain crime. ...
Article
Simon Singer’s [1] America’s Safest City represents a new and innovative contribution to the criminological literature. It not only provides a fresh look at understanding crime in America, it sheds the light on a heretofore understudied part of the country, but one that is increasingly populated: Suburbia. Singer offers a new theoretical perspective which he calls “relational modernity.” Because the perspective is so new, it is important to critically appraise and evaluate its merits. Thus, this special issue offers an overview and analysis of the book from four luminaries in criminology.
... This "imagination enables its possessor to understand the larger historical scene in terms of its meaning for the inner life and the external career of a variety of individuals" (5). "To recognize this task and its promise," he observed, "is the mark of the classic social analyst" (6). It is for this very reason that Simon Singer has proven to be a classic social analyst. ...
Article
Full-text available
In America’s Safest City, Simon Singer embraces the sociological imagination to situate juveniles’ personal troubles within the context of middle-class affluence and modernity. In so doing, he departs from the standard research paradigm that seeks to explain delinquency by using secondary data sets that contain limited measures of theoretical constructs identified by reigning perspectives. Singer’s decision has resulted in a rich analysis that is replete with criminological lessons about the nature of delinquency. Four such lessons are presented here, which include: (1) a lower-class bias has clouded thinking about crime; (2) the reaction to crime differs across classes; (3) parents matter in producing adolescence-limited antisocial youths; and (4) suburban delinquency may be a precursor to white-collar crime.
... Second, even with a variety of theoretical measures, the four models explained a modest amount of variation in substance use, with the R2 ranging from .129 to .299. Weisburd and Piquero (2008) have shown that modest explained variation is common in empirical works testing criminological theories. One possibility is that traditional sociological theories are limited in their explanatory power, and thus that risk factors drawn from other disciplines should be incorporated into attempts to explain delinquent acts, including alcohol and drug use (eg. ...
Article
Full-text available
Among any cohort of American youths, some will use drugs and alcohol whereas others will not. Further, some youngsters will not only use these illegal substances but also abuse them, at times wreaking havoc with their lives and ruining their futures. The purpose of this study is to attempt to unravel this heterogeneity of substance abuse; that is, the intention is to contribute to our understanding of what influences the extent to which adolescents are involved in drug and alcohol use. In particular, using a sample of youths from Kentucky schools, the ability of four rival criminological theories to explain adolescent substance use were examined: differential association/social learning theory, social bond theory, self-control theory, and general strain theory. The empirical tests revealed three main conclusions. First, measures of the components of differential association/social learning theory, social bond theory, self-control theory, and general strain theory were able to explain substance use among adolescents. Second, the theories had general effects across males and females and thus were not gender-specific. Third, because all perspectives earned some empirical support, they might best be seen not as theoretical rivals but as complementary theories that all contribute to our understanding of the sources of substance use among youths.
... Using a secondary dataset made us unable to specifically design measures that capture the precise content and full complexity of Agnew's social concern theory. The low explanatory power of most published works in the field (Weisburd and Piquero 2008) is clear evidence of the problems that criminologists face when using secondary data to study crime. Researchers often have no option but to sacrifice complexity and precision when operationalizing central theoretical constructs through available measures. ...
Article
Using the Pathways to Desistance data, this study provides a test of Agnew’s social concern theory. Social concern is hypothesized to reduce criminality through four components: care about the welfare of others, desire for close ties, moral intuitions, and desire to conform. The analyses provide support for the theory’s core contentions. Care about others and moral intuitions are negatively associated with delinquency. Further, social concern partly mediates the effects of social learning, strain, social bond, self-control, and social support on delinquency. Findings indicate that social concern theory is a promising approach that merits continued theoretical refinement and empirical assessment.
... This challenge of integration should be familiar to criminologists. In an ambitious paper published in Crime and Justice, Weisburd and Piquero (2008) set out to test the respective "explanatory power" of theories of crime located at different levels of analysis. They concluded that all theories leave the bulk of the variance unexplained, and advised that each theoretical approach should look to "what is not explained" (p. ...
Chapter
Although the years since 9/11 have seen an significant increase in the contribution of criminologists to the study of terrorist events, efforts to apply major criminological theories to the understanding of the development of terrorist criminality and individual involvement in terrorist action have lagged. In this chapter, we apply a recently formulated theory of moral action and crime causation, Situational Action Theory, to the explanation of terrorism and radicalization. The case is made that explanations of terrorism and radicalisation should be mechanism-based and integrate all levels of analysis. Situational Action Theory is introduced and examples of its application to the study of terrorism and radicalization are provided. The priorities of a SAT-driven, systematic research agenda are outlined.
... Gang Association/Membership Antisocial peer association has consistently been shown to be among the strongest predictors of delinquency risk [49][50][51], with prior work justifying the use of a single item measuring gang membership [52]. A dichotomous item captured the female's self-reported gang association/membership (=1, else = 0). ...
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Purpose The current study examines the prevalence and correlates of serious, violent, and chronic offending among female juveniles admitted to juvenile justice residential programs in the state of Florida. Methods Results are based on 3008 female youth who completed juvenile justice residential commitment programs from July 1, 2009 to June 30, 2014. Prevalence and correlates of serious, violent, and chronic offending among female youth were examined using logistic regression. Correlates include criminal history, individual, and mental health risk factors as well as temperament constructs. Results This sample of deep-end female offenders evidenced a serious, violent, and chronic prevalence rate of 27%. Female youth who offended earlier in life, those who were gang-involved, had a history of child welfare involvement, and had conduct disorder or temperament problems are more likely to evidence serious, violent, and chronic offending patterns. Conclusions Serious, violent, and chronic female offenders represent a unique subset of juvenile offenders, presenting with myriad of mental health, temperamental, and individual risk factors. Large studies, such as the current examination, are needed to adequately understand the risks and correlates of serious, violent, and chronic offending among female delinquent youth.
... For example, research on prominent theories like that on self-control has shown overall supportive but very heterogeneous results (e.g., Lösel 2017; Pratt and Cullen 2000;Walters 2016). More generally, Weisburd and Piquero (2008) found that the explanatory power of criminological theories is often low and leaves 80-90% of variance unexplained. More crimespecific theories showed somewhat stronger explanatory power than individual-based models. ...
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Recent publications in Nature, Science, and other journals raised concerns about the reproducibility of empirical findings in psychology and other scientific disciplines. This article summarizes some of these arguments and results that led to discussions about a “replication crisis” in research. In criminology, there is not yet a similar discussion, although the need for more replications has been emphasized in the past. The present article addresses this topic with special consideration of program evaluations in early developmental crime prevention and offender treatment. In both fields, there has been substantial progress in research and practice. Most systematic reviews showed mean positive effects; however, nearly all of them demonstrated very heterogeneous findings that could not be attributed to the content of programs. This does not allow simple recommendations of “what works” for policy-making and practice. In addition, there is a serious lack of long-term follow-ups and independent evaluations. The article shows remarkable similarity of the findings and problems in both fields of intervention. Problems of reproducibility prove to be highly relevant for criminology, although there is no need for using the term “crisis”. The article proposes various strategies that can enhance the reproducibility of findings, i.e., more systematic investigation of those differentiated conditions under which interventions are most effective. An integrative model of relevant characteristics is briefly presented. It refers to factors of the programs, contexts, participants, and evaluation methods. Confirmatory meta-analyses can play an important role on the path toward more differentiated and replicated knowledge
... The motivation, the risks and opportunity structures vary according to the crime type and its context. However, regression models explain a greater share of variance when it is run on a specific crime type (Weisburd & Piquero, 2008). ...
... However, because of the limited availability of related research, it is difficult to thoroughly explain why these differences in simulation results between related models occurred. Some potential explanations for why there has been no significant improvement in R 2 and RMSE values as new versions of the model have been created are: (1) agroecosystem models may have started to be used to answer more difficult questions regarding agricultural biogeochemical cycles and sustainable development that are less amenable to explanation; (2) an increasing number of model users who are not well-trained in agroecosystem modelling may result in poor application of the model because of not adequately understanding the model's theories, structures, data requirements, implementation, and limitations (Weisburd and Piquero, 2008); (3) the improvements made in new versions of a model also increased model complexity and possibly output sensitivity to inputs and model parameters; and (4) there may have been a shift in publication bias that acted directly on R 2 and RMSE values. For example, more studies that report low R 2 and high RMSE values may have been published due to the growing recognition of the importance of publishing "negative results" (Low-Décarie et al., 2014). ...
Article
In recent decades, agroecosystem models have been developed to simulate agricultural nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions. Coefficients of determination (R2) and root mean square error (RMSE) are widely used as metrics to assess the explanatory power and simulation accuracy of models and to provide perspectives on model improvement as models evolve. This study aimed to determine whether the fitting accuracy of three agro-ecosystem models to simulate agricultural N2O emissions improved with advancing versions of the models. We used several quality evaluation criteria to extract 94 and 97 reported R2 and RMSE values, respectively, from 32 published articles related to the use of three of the most-used agroecosystem models in the research field of N2O emissions [i.e., DNDC (DeNitrification-DeComposition), DayCent, and APSIM (Agricultural Production Systems sIMulator)]. Results showed that there was (1) no significant improvement in simulating N2O emissions between DNDC9.3 and DNDC9.5; and (2) no significant difference between the simulation abilities of the original models and the user-defined revised models for these widely-used models. These findings may be mainly a result of the offsetting consequences of changes in publication bias and increased focus on complex agricultural issues. The study also found that the simulation accuracy of DNDC was better under conditions of higher annual mean temperature and soil bulk density and lower soil total nitrogen, mainly caused by the formulas and data used to build and validate the model. The study results suggest that the suitability of a model for simulating N2O emissions depends on the climatic and soil conditions at the location of its application. Improving the simulation accuracy of agroecosystem models will require further targeted corrective and development actions in the future.
... Cannabis growers, like other criminal offenders, are rational agents (e.g., Akers, 1990), and they choose locations (or victims) based on the situational status of those locations (or victims). Rational choice theory befits the analysis of criminal events, in no small part because it adopts the premise that situational (i.e., environment-describing) variables can help to explain these events (Hirschi, 1986;Weisburd and Piquero, 2008). Evidence suggests that prospective criminals often behave as if they are rational (Nagin and Paternoster, 1993), especially with respect to crimes involving monetary gains, even when emotions enter into their decision-making (Paternoster and Simpson, 1996; van Gelder and de Vries, 2014). ...
Article
Government agencies in the United States eradicated 10.3 million cannabis plants in 2010. Most (94%) of these plants were outdoor-grown, and 46% of those were discovered on federal lands, primarily on national forests in California, Oregon, and Washington. We developed models that reveal how drug markets, policies, and environmental conditions affect grow siting decisions. The models were built on a rational choice theoretical structure, and utilized data describing 2322 cannabis grow locations (2004–2012) and 9324 absence locations in the states' national forests. Predictor variables included cannabis market prices, law enforcement density, and socioeconomic, demographic, and environmental variables. We also used the models to construct regional maps of grow site likelihood. Significant predictors included marijuana street price and variables associated with grow site productivity (e.g., elevation and proximity to water), production costs, and risk of discovery. Overall, the pattern of grow site establishment on national forests is consistent with rational choice theory. In particular, growers consider cannabis prices and law enforcement when selecting sites. Ongoing adjustments in state cannabis laws could affect cultivation decisions on national forests. Any changes in cannabis policies can be reflected in our models to allow agencies to redirect interdiction resources and potentially increase discovery success. Published by Elsevier B.V.
... We began our chapter with Sutherland and his effort to provide a general explanation of crime. We should add that criminologists keep question themselves on general theories on crime and their explanatory power (Weisburd & Piquero, 2008). However, since 1970s, other criminologists shifted their interests from the reason why people commit crimes to the way they commit them. ...
... This kind of theoretical fragmentation will be familiar to criminologists. In an ambitious paper published in Crime and Justice, Weisburd and Piquero (2008) set out to test the respective 'explanatory power' of theories of crime located at different levels of analysis. They conclude that all theories leave the bulk of the variance unexplained and advise that each theoretical framework should look to "what is not explained" (p.453), if scientific progress is to continue. ...
Technical Report
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Led by UCL, the purpose of this deliverable is to set out an analytical framework, which will 1) guide and motivate the project's data collection activities; and 2) provide the 'bare frame' around which to build LAEE scripts by identifying key categories of indicators associated with LAEEs, which are theorised to signposts opportunities for the prevention, disruption or mitigation of these events. The theoretical model described herein, based on prior work by the first author (Bouhana, UCL) is intended for use as a risk analysis framework (i.e. a model which sets out the relationships between categories of risk factors and indicators at different analytical levels).
... in criminology, the effects of different risk factors for criminal and criminal-analogous outcomes are often much smaller than in other literatures (Weisburd and Piquero 2008). Additionally, our focus is primarily on the rank-order and the relative magnitudes of the estimates (Murray et al. 2018). ...
Chapter
Terrorism research has become a field of increasing interest and importance over the last few decades. Since the events of 9/11, the number of publications in the field has increased exponentially. Despite the explosion in terrorism research, reviews of the literature have consistently bemoaned the dearth of empirical evidence (Silke 2001, 2007, 2009; Sageman 2014). Among the most prominent explanations given for the findings that as little as 3–5% of research is based on any form of empiricism, is the continued absence of definitional clarity and consensus. Scholars also refer to the lack of original data, and a tendency for terrorism research to reuse the same data sets many times over, as one of the primary limitations of the literature (Schuurman and Eijkman 2013). Such criticisms were summarized in Sageman’s (2014) infamous article on the ‘stagnation of terrorism research’.
... These authors have performed exploratory factor analysis or confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) to assess their measures of social concern, but using construct validity assessments with secondary data sets may present a major threat to model specification because the items used in the source studies were developed to capture different concepts. Employing secondary data can also limit the contributions of earlier research because they may not allow researchers to incorporate valid and reliable measures, and they may lower the explanatory power of the theoretical constructs (Weisburd and Piquero 2008). There are no validated measures intended to capture the four dimensions of social concern, which may partly explain why scholars tend to employ secondary data to test the theory. ...
Article
Social concern theory is an integrative theory that considers human nature in multiple dimensions. This study tested an aspect of social concern theory using self-reported data on cyberbullying. We collected original data from a sample of Iranian high school students and examined direct, indirect, mediating, and conditioning effects of social concern on the perpetration of cyberbullying. It was shown that the inclination to social concern has direct, indirect, mediating, and conditioning effects on cyberbullying perpetration. Furthermore, we found significant relationships between the four elements of social concern and moral intuitions contributing to sympathy and empathy, and we found that the desire for close ties to others contributes to the inclination to conform. These results provided strong support for social concern theory.
... in criminology, the effects of different risk factors for criminal and criminal-analogous outcomes are often much smaller than in other literatures (Weisburd and Piquero 2008). Additionally, our focus is primarily on the rank-order and the relative magnitudes of the estimates (Murray et al. 2018). ...
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Objectives This systematic review sought to collate and synthesize the risk and protective factors for different outcomes of radicalization. We aimed to firstly quantify the effects of all factors for which rigorous empirical data exists, and secondly, to differentiate between factors related to radical attitudes, intention, and behaviors. The goal was to develop a rank-order of factors based on their pooled estimates in order to gain a better understanding of which factors may be most important, and the differential effects on the different outcomes. Methods Random effects meta-analysis pooled primarily bivariate effect sizes to calculate pooled estimates for each factor. Meta-regression was used to examine the effects of a range of study-level characteristics, including the effects of using partial effects sizes as supplementary effect sizes where bivariate estimates were unavailable. Subgroup analysis was used to further analyze the extent to which the combining of effect sizes from different sources contributed to heterogeneity and estimate inflation. Leave-one-out sensitivity analysis was used to identify cases where a single study was a significant source of heterogeneity. Results Extensive searches in English, German and Dutch resulted in the screening of more than 10,000 items, and a final inclusion of 57 publications published between 2007 and 2018 from which 62 individual level factors were identified across three radicalization outcomes: attitudes, intentions, and actions. Effect sizes ranged from z − 0.621 to 0.572. The smallest estimates were found for sociodemographic factors, while the largest effect sizes were found for traditional criminogenic and criminotrophic factors such as low self-control, thrill-seeking, and attitudinal factors, with radical attitudes having the largest effect on radical intentions and behaviors. Conclusions The most commonly researched factors, sociodemographic factors, have exceptionally small effects, even when effect sizes are derived from bivariate relationships. The finding regarding the effects of radical attitudes on intentions and actions provide empirical support for existing theoretical frameworks. The consistency among the clustering of familiar criminogenic factors within the rank-order could have implications for the development of a more evidence based approach to risk assessment and counter violent extremism policies.
... It is not common that whole theories can be tested using empirical data that have been specifically designed and collected for that primary purpose (Bruinsma 2016;Cullen et al. 2019;Weisburd and Piquero 2008), yet this is what PADS+ data represent. Since SAT is a "general, dynamic and mechanism-based theory of crime and its causes" (Wikström 2019b), PADS+ is exceptional as a longitudinal study of adolescent crime in its ability to offer a systematic test of such a complex perspective (Cullen et al. 2019). ...
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"Space-Time Budget methodology: facilitating social ecology of crime" is an entry in the "Encyclopaedia of research methods and statistical techniques in Criminology and Criminal Justice" (Editors: J. C. Barnes; D. R. Forde). ABSTRACT: The Space-Time Budget (STB) methodology captures the exposure of particular individuals to particular environments at a particular location and time (convergence). The STB described here was introduced to Criminology by the Peterborough Youth Study (PYS) and further developed and applied by the Peterborough Adolescent and Young Adult Development Study (PADS+). PADS+ is a large-scale longitudinal research project that is specifically designed to investigate and test hypotheses about the role of the environment and its interaction with people’s characteristics and experiences in crime causation. Situational Action Theory (SAT) generates such theoretically integrative hypotheses, making it a truly ecological theory of crime. PADS+ was the first criminological study to use an STB methodology to integrate measures capturing individual characteristics (e.g., from questionnaires) with measures capturing features of environments (e.g., from a small-area community survey or official statistics). The PADS+ Space-Time Budget method uniquely generates data on the behavioural outcome of the convergence of kinds of people in kinds of settings. Although it gathers data that can be applied to other purposes, the position of the STB method as a cornerstone of the study of person-environment interaction in crime causation means that it significantly advances a true Social Ecology of Crime. KEY WORDS: Space-Time Budget (STB); Social Ecology; Individual-Environment Interaction; Situational Action Theory; Peterborough Adolescent and Young Adult Development Study (PADS+); Exposure; Convergence; Environmental Effects; Situational Effects.
... Because many initiatives in public policy are the result of catastrophic events (major organized crime frauds, human trafficking deaths, terrorist attacks), public officials often rush to judgment, based on a single event. A momentary step back to ask the question "how do we know these funds and resources are being well spent?," can prevent waste, as well as the creation of unanticipated harms (e.g., racial or ethnic profiling, mass incarceration, and easy adjustments by criminal groups to the criminal justice response) (see Beare, 1997;Drake, Aos, & Miller, 2009;Leeuw, 2005;Piquero & Brame, 2008;Weisburd & Piquero, 2008). ...
Article
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Dramatic moves have occurred in countering transnational crime since the turn of the twenty-first century. Binding international agreements, such as the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, and the Convention against Corruption, are examples of nearly universally adopted principles and mandates that were difficult to foresee a generation ago. What is less clear is the extent to which these moves indicate true progress, versus actions and efforts that will ultimately be ineffective. This paper assesses significant changes over the last 20 years in responding to transnational organized crime, corruption and global injustice, and points to several efforts to evaluate their effectiveness. Specific content areas are identified in which ongoing evaluation is needed at the intersection between the urge to take action and the patience to evaluate.
... (5.) Weisburd and Piquero (2008) are quick to point out that this statistic was generated from only two articles that met their definition of testing rational choice theory. ...
Chapter
This chapter focuses on situational crime prevention, a method for reducing opportunities for crime by manipulating the immediate environment. It begins by charting the origins and development of situational crime prevention. It then describes how rational choice was later added as the model of offender decision making to underpin situational crime prevention. Three questions are then considered: Is rational choice the only possible theoretical underpinning for situational crime prevention? Is rational choice a satisfactory account of offender decision making? Does rational choice need to be supplemented for the purposes of crime prevention research and practice, and if so, with what?
... An empirical model of cannabis production on national forests conforms to rational choice theory (Becker, 1968;Clarke, 1986, 1987;Akers, 1990). Fundamentally, growers decide where to establish operations based on productivity factors that are composites of characteristics of the landscape (e.g., Hirschi, 1986;Weisburd and Piquero, 2008) and the legal risks inherent in grow site establishment. The general model of a grow decision is described as (Becker, 1968): ...
Article
Ten US states and the District of Columbia have legalized cannabis as of November 2018, and have adopted other policies regarding production, consumption, and the penalties associated with it. These policy changes may have affected illegal growing operations on national forests of the United States. Using data on the number of cannabis grow sites reported on 111 national forests between 2004 and 2016 together with information about state cannabis laws and when they were implemented, we find that recreational cannabis legalization is associated with decreased reports of illegal grow operations on national forests. Laws mandating minimum sentences for illegal cannabis possession or sales are associated with fewer reported grows, as is strict regulation of cannabinoid products. Taxes on sales have positive impacts on illegal growing, while law enforcement presence has a negative effect. Counterfactual simulations for 2016 quantify the magnitudes of these policy effects.
Article
In this presidential address I reflect on the theme of the 2015 annual European Society of Criminology meeting by addressing and discussing the issue of the overwhelming number of crime causation theories in criminology, as well as providing a brief assessment of their quality. The discipline possesses a mixture of hundreds of perspectives, definitions, ideas, sketches, multiple factors, theories and single hypotheses that are partly true and partly untrue, and none are completely true or untrue. It will be argued that, among other factors, criminologists in fact apply hardly any rule to distinguish between true and untrue theories. I sketch the evolution of the discipline and some of its features that led to the current state of affairs. With these issues in mind I raise the question of whether this situation is good or bad for criminology. A future challenge for the discipline will be a stronger commitment by criminological researchers to design more epistemological and methodological studies to limit further proliferation of criminological theories and improve their quality. To reach that reduction, three strategies will be discussed.
Article
Translational criminology is a decision-making perspective that emphasizes the dynamic coproduction of evidence by researchers and practitioners, focusing on obstacles to and facilitators of evidence generation and utilization. It incorporates several other data-driven decision-making models, including evidence-based policy making. This review suggests that the availability of empirical research is no longer the most significant impediment to evidence-based policing. Rather, translating and implementing knowledge about ‘what works‘ in policing has arisen as the field’s primary barrier to securing the effectiveness and efficiency improvements of research and data utilization. This article orients readers to translational criminology’s various components and explores their applications. Focusing on four central considerations, this review explores the roles of researcher practitioner partnerships, policy, technology, and government in developing and sustaining translational efforts in policing. The review concludes by acknowledging challenges to fostering a translational perspective in policing, and offers examples of where it has been applied with success.
Chapter
This chapter examines the core problems associated with the Humean model of causation and highlights why this is an inadequate form of causal reasoning for criminology and the social sciences. The chapter discusses two central themes: firstly, the Humean model’s relationship to causal generalisations and its subsequent vulnerability to open and direct refutation through the problem of deviant causal chains – where a set of antecedent conditions do not produce the expected consequent. This section also involves a discussion of abduction – inferring to the best explanation and explains why, though intended, this is not what occurs in the social sciences. Secondly, the chapter will explore the Humean model of causation and how it relates to the infamously tangled causation/correlation problem. I explain how the very nature of the Humean construction prevents the discernment of any condition that may be causal from those which are merely correlational. Finally, this chapter will explore and explain just why this formulation of causal reasoning is not a suitable mechanism for understanding the causes of crime.
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Although Tittle and Curran in 1988 found support for the symbolic threat hypothesis, no further empirical investigations of the perspective have occurred to explain the contingencies of juvenile justice decision-making. We argue that past research has neglected this multilevel theory by only focusing on the “symbolic threat” thesis component, mischaracterizing the perspective as an inequality theory, or classifying the model as a derivative of Blalock’s minority group threat perspective. We contend that the original formulation of the symbolic threat hypothesis is a distinctive theory and offers a viable alternative to inequality and other racial/threat theoretical perspectives. The current study empirically tests the perspective in its entirety by examining the interrelationships between county-level characteristics (i.e. youth and minority populations), a juvenile’s race/ethnicity, and engaging in “moral offenses” with juvenile justice decision-making. The findings provide insight into the influence of contextual factors on the social control of youth of different racial/ethnic backgrounds.
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This chapter introduces the book and explains that causation and causal explanations are central to human understanding. The chapter also begins to explain why the problem of causation has been such a thorn in the side of both philosophy and the natural/social sciences. It notes that the field of criminology essentially has three core aims: defining crime, explaining how crime occurs and deciding what to do about crime. It explains the aetiological crisis that has beset criminology and how we are failing our own discipline. It also explains why this is an issue for criminology students and criminological theorists and how they may use the book. It also explains how and why each chapter is set out.
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posits that the structure of science promotes revolutionary discovery. The decision of a scientific community to discard the status quo in favour of a revolutionary paradigm is influenced by sociological forces. Karl Popper disagreed, arguing that falsification is required. An examination of a random sample of 501 articles published in 14 peer-reviewed American outlets in criminology and criminal justice from 1993 to 2008 is coupled with oral histories from 17 leading criminologists in determining which approach best characterizes criminology. Twelve per cent of papers falsify theory. When not explicitly falsified, atrophy occurs when theory is overused (exhaus-tion), ignored (indolence) and subjected to a sustained critique (assault). The intention of the effort is to document and describe falsification and then invite further discourse.
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Jüngste Publikationen in renommierten Fachzeitschriften wie Nature und Science haben gezeigt, dass es Probleme bei der Replikation von Forschungsergebnissen gibt. Dieser Beitrag informiert über einige Befunde zum Replikationsproblem und befasst sich in diesem Kontext mit der Reproduzierbarkeit von Ergebnissen in der Kriminologie und exemplarisch mit der entwicklungsbezogenen Kriminalprävention. Es zeigt sich, dass zwar im Durchschnitt positive Evaluationsergebnisse vorliegen, aber auch erhebliche Unterschiede in den Effektstärken, die keineswegs nur auf die verschiedenen Inhalte von Programmen zurückzuführen sind. Dies erlaubt keine einfachen Empfehlungen über die Wirksamkeit. Darüber hinaus umfassen die meisten Evaluationen nur kurzfristig Follow-up-Zeiträume. Auch sehr gute Studien liefern nur teilweise konsistente Ergebnisse. Programmentwicklung und -implementierung sind oftmals nicht unabhängig. Die genannten und andere Probleme betreffen nicht nur die entwicklungsorientierte Kriminalprävention, sondern sind allgemeiner. Trotz deutlicher Fortschritte in der einschlägigen Evaluationsforschung zeigt der Beitrag, dass differenziertere Ansätze notwendig sind. Zahlreiche Merkmale der Programme, Kontexte, Zielgruppen und Forschungsmethodik spielen für die Programmwirkungen eine Rolle. Wesentliche Schritte auf dem Weg zu einer differenzierten und replizierten Evidenzbasis werden dargestellt.
Article
A crisis of confidence has struck the behavioral and social sciences. A key factor driving the crisis is the low levels of statistical power in many studies. Low power is problematic because it leads to increased rates of false-negative results, inflated false-discovery rates, and over-estimates of effect sizes. To determine whether these issues impact criminology, we computed estimates of statistical power by drawing 322 mean effect sizes and 271 average sample sizes from 81 meta-analyses. The results indicated criminological studies, on average, have a moderate level of power (mean = 0.605), but there is variability. This variability is observed across general studies as well as those designed to test interventions. Studies using macro-level data tend to have lower power than studies using individual-level data. To avoid a crisis of confidence, criminologists must not ignore statistical power and should be skeptical of large effects found in studies with small samples.
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This review discusses practical benefits and limitations of novel data-driven research for social scientists in general and criminologists in particular by providing a comprehensive examination of the matter. Specifically, this study is an attempt to critically evaluate ‘big data’, data-driven perspectives, and their epistemological value for both scholars and practitioners, particularly those working on crime. It serves as guidance for those who are interested in data-driven research by pointing out new research avenues. In addition to the benefits, the drawbacks associated with data-driven approaches are also discussed. Finally, critical problems that are emerging in this era, such as privacy and ethical concerns are highlighted.
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In this article, we outline the place of Russian criminology on the world criminological map during the pre-Soviet, Soviet, and post-Soviet eras. We examine the external institutional and economic pressures experienced by the field of criminology in past decades and assess its current development against the backdrop of other social sciences in Russia. Further, we interface these arguments with data drawn off Russian academics’ perceptions on whether criminology as a discipline has significantly transformed in Russia after the breakdown of the Soviet Union; how relevant Russian criminology is for the practice of law-enforcement and state crime control policy; and whether criminology has appropriate placement within law schools which serve as primary residence for the discipline. Finally, we conclude with some reflection on the current state of Russian criminology and the future directions of the discipline.
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This volume’s contention that regulations have a powerful role in crime control contradicts the prevailing positivism of criminology—that is, the contention that criminality is largely explained by criminals’ past experiences. This article draws upon recent critiques of positivism and explains the implications for contemporary criminology. It begins by describing the ideas of a London magistrate, Patrick Colquhoun, about the determinants of crime and the best means of its control. Colquhoun’s writings were the first developed discussion of regulating crime, but they were soon eclipsed by positivist thinking. I list numerous weakness of positivism and argue that, instead of seeing offenders’ behavior as determined by their past, greater account should be taken of the situational inducements and opportunities to commit crime that they encounter in their everyday lives. Instead of positivism, the dominant model of criminology and crime control should be a neoclassicist, bounded rational choice model, which would introduce situational design and management changes to restrict offenders choices and modify behavior. That change in orientation would open limitless opportunities for criminologists.
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Largely overlooked in the theoretical and empirical literature on the crime decline is a long tradition of research in criminology and urban sociology that considers how violence is regulated through informal sources of social control arising from residents and organizations internal to communities. In this article, we incorporate the “systemic” model of community life into debates on the U.S. crime drop, and we focus on the role that local nonprofit organizations played in the national decline of violence from the 1990s to the 2010s. Using longitudinal data and a strategy to account for the endogeneity of nonprofit formation, we estimate the causal effect on violent crime of nonprofits focused on reducing violence and building stronger communities. Drawing on a panel of 264 cities spanning more than 20 years, we estimate that every 10 additional organizations focusing on crime and community life in a city with 100,000 residents leads to a 9 percent reduction in the murder rate, a 6 percent reduction in the violent crime rate, and a 4 percent reduction in the property crime rate.
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Youth with poor self-regulation or criminal attitudes are at risk for recidivism. Researchers have yet to examine how self-regulation and criminal attitudes intermix to influence recidivism. The present study employed a large sample of 26,947 youth in the Florida Juvenile Justice System to examine the effect of criminal attitudes on the association between self-regulation and recidivism over a 1-year period. The results indicated that the influence of self-regulation on recidivism varied based on youths’ attitudes. Although self-regulation affected recidivism among youth with average (dy/dx = –.03, SE = .01, p < .001) and less criminal (dy/dx = –.05, SE = .01, p < .001) attitudes, self-regulation was not associated with recidivism among youth with more criminal attitudes (dy/dx = –.01, SE = .01, p = .150). These findings demonstrate mechanisms that may promote sustained justice system involvement and identify key levers for reducing youth recidivism.
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Der Beitrag unterscheidet drei Arten von Evidenz: erstens eine lebensweltliche, die v.a. in Routinen und impliziten Gewissheiten besteht. Sie ist die zentrale Basis gegenwärtiger Präventionsprojekte. Zweitens eine „evidenzbasierte“ Evidenz, die strikte Forderungen nach kontextunabhängigen, statistisch begründeten Wirksamkeitsnachweisen verfolgt. Drittens eine kontextspezifische Form der Evidenz, die durch fachliches, wissenschaftlich informiertes Handeln in der Interaktion mit AdressatInnen realisiert wird. Lebensweltliche Evidenz steht in der Gefahr, Fallstricke und Komplexitäten präventiven Arbeitens zu unterschätzen. Dies kann durch „evidenzbasierte“ Ansätze korrigiert werden. Sie tendieren jedoch dazu, Eigensinnigkeiten sowohl der Kriminalpolitik wie auch der fachlichen Praxis und zudem die notwendige Beteiligung von AdressatInnen auszublenden. Aus diesen Herausforderungen resultiert die Kontur einer durch Fachkräfte zu erbringenden Form von Evidenz: In sie müssen etablierte wissenschaftliche Befunde ebenso einfließen wie Spezifika der jeweiligen Situationen und der Personen, mit denen gearbeitet wird.
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In order to investigate changes in scholarly influence in criminology and criminal justice over a 15-year time period, the most-cited scholars in six major American journals were determined for the period 1996-2000, and results were compared with those obtained for 1991-1995 and 1986-1990. The number of cited authors in these journals increased by 50% over this time period. Some highly cited authors were specialists, because they had one or two major works (usually theoretical books) cited a lot, whereas others were versatile because they had many different works with fewer citations each. The most highly cited works tended to be books rather than articles. During this 15-year time period, older scholars such as Marvin E. Wolfgang were being cited less often, while younger scholars such as Robert J. Sampson were becoming more highly cited. The most-cited scholars in 1996-2000 were Robert J. Sampson in American criminology journals and Francis T. Cullen in American criminal justice journals. An analysis of citations in Criminology in 2005 showed the emergence of the next generation of highly cited scholars, such as Alex R. Piquero. The most highly cited scholars in American criminology journals focused on longitudinal/criminal career research and/or criminological theories. The most highly cited scholars in American criminal justice journals focused either on these topics or on criminal justice issues such as rehabilitation, sentencing, and law enforcement.
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The goal of statistical analysis is to find patterns in data. Most statistical methods rely on analyzing the effect of the same set of variables on the population under study, i.e., nomothetic analysis. Therefore, when data are collected in the social sciences, most often they are put in a framework that resembles a spreadsheet: each row represents a separate individual, and each column represents a separate characteristic (or variable) that pertains to that individual. However, not all individuals in the study are affected by the same set of variables: each individual may have his/her own individual set of relevant variables, suggesting that methods be developed that consider them individually, i.e., idiographic analysis. Moreover, lives are lived chronologically, and are often best described in narrative form. These narratives usually have to be condensed, or abridged in other ways, in order to fit the data framework and permit what one might call ``algorithmic analysis”. Each set of methods has its advantage: nomothetic methods generate general laws that apply to all, while idiographic methods trace the putative causal relationships that are unique to each individual. This paper describes another data collection and analytic framework, one that (a) is chronological; (b) recognizes that different people may have experienced entirely different events and thus may need different ``variables” to understand their behavior; (c) recognizes that, even if people experience similar events, they may have entirely different reactions to them; and (d) can be studied (and patterns inferred) using an exploratory graphical analysis that is more free-form than algorithmic analysis. Examples of this type of analysis used in different medical and criminal justice contexts are given, and suggested directions of research in this area are described.
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This book examines young people’s involvement in crime (including crimes of violence, vandalism, shoplifting, burglary and car crime) as both victims and offenders.
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Studies of the criminal career to date have focused on common criminals and street crime; criminologists have overlooked the careers of white-collar offenders. David Weisburd and Elin Waring offer here the first detailed examination of the criminal careers of people convicted of white-collar crimes. Weisburd and Waring uncover some surprising findings, which upset common wisdom about white-collar criminals. Many scholars have assumed that white-collar criminals are unlikely to have multiple or long records or repeat offenses. As the authors demonstrate, a significant number of white-collar criminals have numerous brushes with the law and their careers show marked similarities to the circumstances and life patterns of street criminals. Their findings illustrate the misplaced emphasis of previous scholarship in focusing on the categorical distinctions between criminals and non-criminals. Rather, their data suggest the importance of the immediate context of crime and its role in leading otherwise conventional people to violate the law.
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Binary response variables special logistical analyses some complications some related approaches more complex responses. Appendices: Theoretical background Choice of explanatory variables in multiple regression Review of computational aspects Further results and exercises.
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Much of the confusion surrounding interpretation and application of the coefficient of determination, R , can be alleviated if it is defined explicitly as a comparison of a given model to the null model EY = β0. The model-comparison definition allows R to be easily generalized, and standard extensions such as coefficients of partial determination are seen to be special cases of this generalization. Formulas become simpler, more unified, and more easily understood. Commonly cited problem areas such as R for the no-intercept model and model comparisons using different values of R are also clarified by this perspective.
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The behavior of the sample coefficient of determination is examined for some arrangements of independent variable values in a simple linear regression with normally distributed error terms. Numerical values of means and standard deviations are presented that provide some insight into the influence of range and arrangement of independent variable values and sample size on the size of the sample coefficient of determination. Some asymptotic results are given.
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This article reports a meta-analysis on social skills training as a measure for preventing antisocial behavior in children and youth. From 851 documents, 84 reports containing 135 comparisons between treated and untreated youngsters (N = 16,723) fulfilled stepwise eligibility criteria (e.g., randomized control-group design, focus on prevention). Despite a wide range of positive and negative effect sizes, the majority confirmed the benefits of treatment. The best estimated mean effects were d = .38 (postintervention) and .28 (follow-up). Effects were smaller on antisocial behavior than on related social and cognitive measures. Studies with large samples produced lower effect sizes than those with smaller samples. Programs targeting at-risk groups had better effects than universal programs. Modes of treatment did not differ significantly; however, cognitive-behavioral programs had the strongest impact on antisocial behavior. More well-controlled studies with large samples, hard outcome criteria, and long follow-up periods are needed, particularly outside the United States.
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The Pittsburgh Youth Study is a prospective longitudinal survey of three samples of Pittsburgh boys (each containing about 500 boys) initially studied in first, fourth, and seventh grades. The first two data collection waves yielded self-reported delinquency and combined delinquency seriousness scores (the combined scores based on information from boy, mother, and teacher) for the middle sample (up to an average age of 10.7 years) and oldest sample (up to an average age of 13.9 years). These scores were compared with records of petitions to the Allegheny County Juvenile Court for delinquency offenses before and up to six years after the assessments. The area under the ROC curve was used as a measure of validity. Concurrent validity was higher than predictive validity. The combined scale had similar concurrent validity but greater predictive validity than the self-report scale, and the combined scale also identified a greater number of boys as serious delinquents. Concurrent validity for admitting offenses was higher for Caucasians, but concurrent validity for admitting arrests was higher for African-Americans. There were no consistent ethnic differences in predictive validity. There was an increase in predictive validity, for both African-Americans and Caucasians, by combining self-report data with information from other sources. Afrer controlling for delinquency measures, African-Americans were more likely than Caucasians to be petitioned in the future, but not in the past. In this research, ethnic differences in official delinquency were partly attributable to ethnic differences in delinquent behavior and were not attributable to differential ethnic attrition or differential ethnic validity of measures of delinquent behavior.
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This paper builds on work by Nagin and Paternoster in which they contend that two recent developments in criminological theory, self-control and rational choice, have been explored separately rather than in conjunction with one another. In their analysis, Nagin and Paternoster found direct effects for variables from each of these theories and called for more research into simultaneous examination of the two. We build on their work by delineating a more highly specified model of rational offending, in which we observe that the research thus far has not examined the indirect effects of low self-control. We believe that this area is grossly underdeveloped and that such an examination is necessary for a more complete understanding of criminal offending. We advance three hypotheses concerning the integration of low self-control into a rational choice framework: (1) that low self-control will have both direct and indirect effects via situational characteristics on intentions to shoplift and drive drunk; (2) that situational characteristics will have direct effects on intentions to deviate, as well as effects on other situational factors; and (3) that a model uniting the effects of low self-control and situational characteristics will provide a good fit to the data. We find support for all these hypotheses and suggest that future theoretical developments will be improved by the integration of low self-control with situational characteristics in a more general model of offending.
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In explaining crime, some criminological theories emphasize time-stable individual differences in propensity to offend while others emphasize more proximate and situational factors. Using scenario data from a sample of college undergraduates we have found evidence to support both positions. A measure of criminal propensity (poor self-control) was found to be significantly related to self-reported decisions to commit three offenses (drunk driving, theft, and sexual assault). Even after considering differences in self-control, there was evidence to suggest that the attractiveness of the crime target, the ease of committing the crime with minimum risk, and perceptions of the costs and benefits of committing the crime were all significantly related to offending decisions. Our results suggest that theories of criminal offending should include notions pertaining to persistent individual differences in criminal propensity and choice-relevant variables.
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After a useful beginning in the eighteenth-century Enlightenment as both an experimental and analytic social science, criminology sank into two centuries of torpor. Its resurrection in the late twentieth century crime wave successfully returned criminology to the forefront of discovering useful, if not always used, facts about prevailing crime patterns and responses to crime. Criminology’s failures of “use” in creating justice more enlightened by knowledge of its effects is linked to the still limited usefulness of criminology, which lacks a comprehensive body of evidence to guide sanctioning decisions. Yet that knowledge is rapidly growing, with experimental (as distinct from analytic) criminology now more prominent than at any time since Henry Fielding founded criminology while inventing the police. The future of criminology may thus soon resemble medicine more than economics.
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Consider developing a regression model in a context where substantive theory is weak. To focus on an extreme case, suppose that in fact there is no relationship between the dependent variable and the explanatory variables. Even so, if there are many explanatory variables, the R 2 will be high. If explanatory variables with small t statistics are dropped and the equation refitted, the R 2 will stay high and the overall F will become highly significant. This is demonstrated by simulation and by asymptotic calculation.
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Evaluation studies vary in methodological quality. It is essential to develop methodological quality standards for evaluation research that can be understood and easily used by scholars, practitioners, policy makers, the mass media, and systematic reviewers. This article proposes that such standards should be based on statistical conclusion validity, internal validity, construct validity, external validity, and descriptive validity. Methodological quality scales are reviewed, and it is argued that efforts should be made to improve them. Pawson and Tilley's challenge to the Campbell evaluation tradition is also assessed. It is concluded that this challenge does not have any implications for methodological quality standards, because the Campbell tradition already emphasizes the need to study moderators and mediators in evaluation research.
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Comments on research in "soft psychology" involving more ephemeral and unreplicable areas of study, focusing on the question of how large an effect must be to be considered important. The binomial effect size display (R. Rosenthal and D. B. Rubin; see record 1982-22591-001) is viewed as a useful way to display the practical magnitude of an effect size, regardless of whether the dependent variable is dichotomous or continuous. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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This book presents the results of 20 years of ecological research into the nature of the relationship between the distribution of delinquency and the pattern of physical structure and social organization of 21 American cities. Uniform findings in every city confirm the hypothesis that the physical deterioration of residential areas accompanied by social disorganization is greatest in a central zone in the business district, intermediate in a middle zone, and lowest in the other zones, and that there is a progressive decline in the incidence of delinquency from the innermost zone where it is most concentrated to the peripheral areas. Delinquency is found to be highly correlated with changes in population, inadequate housing, poverty, presence of Negroes and foreign-born, tuberculosis, mental disorders, and adult criminality. The common basic factor is social disorganization or the absence of community effort to cope with these conditions. Causation of juvenile delinquency is to be sought more in terms of the community than of the individual. 107 maps pertaining to the cities studied and 118 tables relating to population and delinquency rates are included as well as a chapter describing the Chicago Area Project as a demonstration of the effective mobilization of community forces to combat delinquency and crime. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
Discusses the paradoxical discrepancy involved in the statistical calculation of the percentage of variation in batting performance that is attributable to skill differentials among major-league baseball players, which is discrepant with intuitions about the influence of skill in batting performance. This discrepancy is discussed in terms of habits of thought about variance explanation. It is argued that percentage variance explanation is a misleading index of the influence of systematic factors in cases where there are processes by which influences cumulate to produce meaningful outcomes. (6 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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Among the best documented empirical regularities in criminology is the positive association between past and future delinquency and criminality. In this paper, we examine alternative interpretations of this association. One is that prior participation has a genuine behavioral impact on the individual. Prior participation may, for example, reduce inhibitions against engaging in delinquent activity. Such an effect is termed state dependence. A second explanation is that individuals differ in unmeasured delinquent propensity and this unmeasured propensity is persistent over time. This second explanation is a consequence of population heterogeneity. Using a three-wave panel data set, we attempt to distinguish these two interpretations of the positive association between past and future delinquency. Our results suggest that the positive association is principally due to a state-dependent influence. Theoretical implications and directions for future research are also discussed.