Although often tested empirically on high school samples, differential association and social control theories have only infrequently been used to explain offending by felons. Based on a sample of 1,153 newly incarcerated felons, the authors examine the ability of differential association and social control theories to explain self-reported offending across types of crime and gender groups. Overall, the analyses lend support to both perspectives and suggest that they are “general” theories of crime. It also appears, however, that differential association theory has more consistent effects, especially for men. Parental attachment is a significantly stronger predictor of female than male participation in violent crime. These results indicate that future studies of criminal behavior risk being misspecified if they do not include measures of these “traditional” theories of crime.
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