Types of neutralization and types of delinquency

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Neutralization theory was tested with questionnaires administered to a random sample of pubtic school students (N = 298) and institutionalized male delinquents (N = 53). Nye-Short delinquency items were factor analyzed to yield three dimensions of delinquency (Predatory, Minor, and Aggressive), and each of the five techniques of neutralization was scored separately. Patterns of acceptance of neutralization techniques were similar among high school males, high school females, and institutionalized males. For example, all three subsamples scored highest on Detail of a Victim and lowest on Appeal to Higher Loyalties. Correlations between each technique of neutralization and each type of delinquency, however, were statistically significant and quite dissimilar. Within the three subsamples, however, there were no discernible patterns among these dissimilar correlations. In fact, few of the differences among these correlations were statistically significant. The analysis provides general support for neutralization theory, but indicates that the particular technique of neutralization as well as the particular type of delinquent act may be viable distinctions in delinquency research.




Mitchell, J., & Dodder, R. A. (1983). Types of neutralization and types of delinquency. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 12(4), 307–318. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02088729

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