Kyle J. Thomas's research while affiliated with University of Colorado Boulder and other places

Publications (32)

Article
Extant research has provided support for the micro‐level predictions of rational choice models of crime. Yet, a central feature of the rational choice perspective in the broader social sciences—that it is multilevel in focus, situating individuals within broader community social structures—has been neglected within criminology. In this article, we...
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This essay continues a recent academic exchange which appeared in Journal of Developmental and Life Course Criminology (JDLCC) regarding Paternoster’s (2017) Happenings, Acts, and Actions: Articulating the Meaning and Implications of Human Agency for Criminology. JDLCC published challenges to Paternoster (2017) by Cullen (2017), Brezina (2020), and...
Article
Full-text available
This essay continues a recent academic exchange which appeared in Journal of Developmental and Life Course Criminology (JDLCC) regarding Paternoster's (2017) Happenings, Acts, and Actions: Articulating the Meaning and Implications of Human Agency for Criminology. JDLCC published challenges to Paternoster (2017) by Cullen (2017), Brezina (2020), and...
Article
We explore the implications of multiple reference groups for symbolic interaction explanations of delinquency. Specifically, we test the idea that dissimilarity in reflected appraisals across reference groups weakens the effect of the appraisals of a single group on behavior. We also assess whether the relative influence of different reflected appr...
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In December of 2017, Ray Paternoster published Happenings, Acts, and Actions: Articulating the Meaning and Implications of Human Agency for Criminology, in the Journal of Developmental and Life Course Criminology (JDLCC). Happenings embodied many years of reflection and scholarship that yielded Paternoster’s (2017) penultimate conception of human a...
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Scholars generally agree that offending decisions occur in social context, with some suggesting that choice models should explicitly integrate the notion that the deviant actions of others can incentivize offending. In this study, we investigate whether group settings can also disincentivize deviant action via reverse bandwagon effects, where indiv...
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Scholars often have a vested interest in journal quality and prestige, as publications in "high impact" journals can influence career decisions and outcomes. Yet, two of the most commonly used bibliometrics-the Google Scholar (GS) h5 index and the Web of Sciences five year impact factor (5Y-IF)-sometimes lead to vastly different rankings. In the fi...
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Purpose The purpose of this paper is to consider the utility of school-based research for studying gangs and gang members. Police–researcher collaborations have led to considerable advancements in the understanding of gang involvement and its consequences. But the current social environment should encourage scholars to take stock of alternative met...
Article
The relationship between associating with (non)deviant peers and one’s own delinquent tendencies is often attributed to the motivation for positive reinforcement and status attainment. Guided by prospect theory and loss aversion, we assert that there is an alternative mechanism through which individuals conform to peer influence – to prevent loss o...
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In prior tests of Beckerian rational choice theory, the notion that individuals are responsive to the (dis)incentives associated with crime has been supported. Much of this research has comprised composite scores of perceived rewards and risks of multiple, often disparate, crime types that are then used to predict “general” offending behavior. Alth...
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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 t...
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We argue that a rational choice framework can be used to explain declines in offending from adolescence to young adulthood in two ways. First, subjective expectations of offending can be age graded such that perceptions of rewards decrease and perceptions of risks and costs increase. Second, the marginal (dis)utility of crime may be age graded (e.g...
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A longstanding debate in criminology concerns whether peers influence delinquency or if they are of no significance because criminal propensity develops independent of associations. Matza (1969 Matza, D. (1969). Becoming deviant. New Brunswick: Transaction. [Google Scholar]) criticized these competing perspectives, suggesting instead that the peer–...
Article
Peer influence occupies an intriguing place in criminology. On the one hand, there is a long line of theorizing and empirical work highlighting it as a key causal process for delinquency. On the other, there is a group of theoretical skeptics who view it as one of the most notorious examples of a spurious link. After discussing these perspectives,...
Article
Objectives I argue that a person-situation complex of delinquent rationalizations can be conceptualized by relating rationalizations to item response theory (IRT), where approval of delinquency is predominately a function of the individual willingness to rationalize ( θ j) and situational difficulty of applying a rationalization ( b i ). This frame...
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Objective This study examines whether single-item attitude measures commonly used in research adequately capture adolescent attitudes towards specific delinquent behaviors. It also explores whether delinquent attitudes form a unidimensional or multidimensional construct. Finally, this study tests Ajzen and Fishbein’s principle of compatibility to d...
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An often implicit assumption of perceptual deterrence tests is that the elicited values pertaining to arrest risk reflect stable underlying beliefs. But researchers in other disciplines have found that reported expectations are highly susceptible to exogenous factors (e.g., anchors and question ordering), indicating that such values are somewhat ar...
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Research has demonstrated that the presence of others shifts decision-making about risky/deviant behavior. One reason for this shift could be changes in the anticipated experience of formal sanctions, informal costs, and rewards. To investigate this possibility, this study conducted two randomized controlled trials with hypothetical vignettes, in w...
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Objectives To consider, at a conceptual level, the factors that inform perceptions of peer deviance and subsequently, at an empirical level, the extent to which survey information from high school students confirms whether these elements shape perceptions of friends’ drinking. This study also offers an alternative way to document projection bias....
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The consistent and robust relationship between peers and frequency of offending is often cited as evidence that friends play an important role in adolescent behavioral tendencies. But Warr (2002) has argued that the empirical support for peer perspectives remains equivocal in part because research has not demonstrated that individuals and their pee...
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Objective: Criminological researchers want people to reveal considerable private information when utilizing self-report surveys, such as involvement in crime, subjective attitudes and expectations, and probability judgments. Some of this private information is easily accessible for subjects and all that is required is for individuals to be honest,...
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This article focuses on the degree to which friends' influence on substance use is conditioned by the consistency between their behavior and that of schoolmates (individuals enrolled in the same school, but not identified as friends), contributing to the literature on the complexity of interactive social influences during adolescence. Specifically,...
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Objectives This study addresses the enduring question about whether exposure to deviant peers causes individuals to engage in deviance. Ample literature comments on this point, but methodological limitations prevent strong conclusions about causality. Method The authors conducted a laboratory-based experiment under the guise of a memory/recall stu...
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The distinct peer-based perspectives of deviant normative influence and unstructured/unsupervised socializing with friends contend that adolescents rely on different information when deciding to offend, with the former positing that individuals offend after considering the longer term consequences of behavior, and the latter positing that decisions...
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Despite the salient role many criminologists accord peers as a source of influence in the frequency and character of offending, little is known about the role peers play in promoting offending versatility. The current study contributes to this understanding by testing the hypothesis that individuals isolated from peers display greater levels of spe...
Article
Although scholars have recognized the utility of conductive energy devices as less-than-lethal force tools, there have been concerns over the misuse of the device and the adverse health effects associated with its use in the field. In an attempt to improve policy, scholars and policing organizations, such as the Police Executive Research Forum (PER...
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Recent theoretical and empirical research in deterrence has detected evidence of differential deterrability, or that the effect of sanctions is not uniform across persons. Important questions in this area remain to be explored, and this study considered a central question: Whether important across-individual variability in risk perceptions can be t...
Article
Some concern has arisen over the overly “routine” use of conducted energy devices (CEDs) and their effectiveness in achieving important policy goals such as reducing the incidence of lethal force. These concerns directly call into question the departmental policy surrounding these devices. Using a large, national sample of chief executive officers...

Citations

... Martin Bouchard (2021) focuses on the use of social network analysis to study gangs in two critical settings where they can be found: in schools and in prison settings. Thomas and Taylor (2021) remind us of the continued importance and relevance of the school as a setting for studying gang membership. Bichler et al. (2021) demonstrate how publicly available court records can be used to study networks of violence for an entire system of gangs in Los Angeles over several years. ...
... In addition, Chen and colleagues (2018) found that youth in highly aggressive classrooms who themselves displayed overt aggression were more central in their class social networks. The possible social rewards and consequences of school aggression and violence may also point to factors to target for intervention, particularly if youth engage in aggression to gain social status (Callejas & Shepherd, 2020) or to prevent loss of status within peer groups (Thomas & Nguyen, 2020). ...
... Criminal law norms, determining which socially dangerous acts are criminal, and establishing the types and amounts of punishments for their commission, thereby have a preventive effect on society as a whole. This effect is that citizens have a clear idea of certain actions as criminal, with the association in their minds of criminal punishment as an inevitable consequence of the crime(Thomas & Vogel, 2019;Thomas et al., 2020). ...
... In more concrete terms, aging may affect offending either directly, through the impact that growing older can have on one's physical ability to commit offences, or indirectly, by dint of a creeping process of tiring, burning out or being worn out tied to the daily grind of a life of crime (Sparkes & Day, 2016). Beyond instigating a sense of offending fatigue (Giordano et al., 2002), transitioning into adulthood is also known to alter the calculus of decision-making in potential desisters (Shover & Thompson, 1992;Thomas & Vogel, 2019). More particularly, with increasing age usually comes a sharpened capability to make well-considered decisions (Rocque, 2015;Shapland & Bottoms, 2017) as well as an increase in self-control . ...
... However, while existing research has provided indirect evidence for diffusion of responsibility through identifying associations between co-offending and more violent offending (e.g., Lantz 2020; Tillyer and Tillyer 2019) or a greater likelihood of future delinquency (Walters 2020), this process has not yet amassed direct empirical support. Second, rational choice and offender decision-making scholars have demonstrated the role that perceived guilt has in explaining criminal behavior with some work exploring how peers impact this relationship (e.g., Nagin and Paternoster 1993;Piquero and Tibbetts 1996;Thomas and McCuddy 2020). Interestingly, McGraw (1987:248) argues, "that guilt is a linear function of responsibility…. ...
... Numerous studies have been conducted in the U.S. and other Western contexts to determine the predictors of adolescent delinquent behaviours (Emmert et al., 2018;Jackson et al., 2019). Although there are several predictive factors, such as peer relationships (McGloin & Thomas, 2019), neighbourhood contexts (Binik et al., 2019), and religious beliefs (Martinez, 2017), evidence suggests that the family environment plays a particularly crucial role in determining whether an adolescent will engage in delinquent behaviours (Vashisht & Tanwar, 2018). In a review of the role of family in adolescent delinquency interventions, (Smith & Stern, 1997) concluded that adolescents whose families are caring and cohesive and whose parents are supportive with good parenting skills are more likely to thrive even in an adverse and detrimental external environment whilst adolescents whose families lack warmth and support are more likely to engage in delinquency. ...
... Further, several studies have continually examined the relationship between attitudes favorable to deviant behaviors and involvement in those behaviors (e.g., Baek et al. 2018;Cochran et al. 2017;Janssen et al. 2017;Pardini, Loeber, and Stouthamer-Loeber 2005;Shoal et al. 2007;Thomas 2019;Tittle, Antonaccio, and Botchkovar 2012). More specifically, these studies emphasized the role of parenting in internalizing children's attitudes toward delinquency. ...
... Table 4 provides a series of suggestive steps that can be applied during the process of defining peer influence and in determining the best analytic approach to use to address these questions (for additional reading on the importance of definitions of peer influence see Kindermann & Skinner, 2019). We also suggest that scholars carefully consider recent work indicating that conventional statistical tools do not overestimate influence effects compared with network approaches (Ragan et al., 2019) and influence effects attained from cross-lagged models are unlikely to be false positives derived from unobserved variable biases (Thomas et al., 2019). ...
... outcome A is twice as severe as outcome B) are bound to be unstable across subjects. See for example Thomas et al. (2018), who demonstrated how, in similar workshops seeking to elicit arrest risks across crime scenarios, participants provided stable probabilistic perceptions of risk that were rank-stable within participants, but were also simultaneously arbitrary in the sense that the specific risk of arrest for each scenario was neither stable between individuals nor meaningful, a set of measurement properties that they deemed to reflect coherent arbitrariness. We argue, however, that to assume our severity scale possesses the characteristics of a ratio-level variable is well justified, as the reason we do so is to be able to relax an even less tenable assumption, namely that of equal variances. ...
... One potentially significant indirect effect between personality and harsh punishment may be attitudes about harsh punishment. Attitudes reflect one's previous experiences, values and perceptions (Budd et al., 2015;Holden, 2020), and are formed through personal experiences, cultural norms and observations of others' behavior (Taylor et al., 2017;Thomas, 2018). With regards to punishment, adults develop attitudes about what types of punishment are acceptable toward children's misbehavior even before they become a parent (Vittrup et al., 2006). ...