RESEARCH PROPOSAL EXAMPLE 4. THIS PERSON RECEIVED A “9.8” INTRODUCTION Micheal Gottfredson and Travis Hirschi’s general theory of crime purports to be able to predict all crime at all time and that a person’s level of self-control is determined and unchangeable by age eight. This researcher saw this theory as an awfully broad statement and an extremely pessimistic view of human nature. By this logic, a person with a low score on the selfcontrol construct would be almost guaranteed to commit crime given the appropriate opportunity and little can be done to change that behavior. This researcher proposes that self-control can be learned and bolstered later in life through extensive behavior modification programs that work to curb the
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The characteristics of those with low self-control are described as “impulsive, insensitive, physical (as opposed to verbal), risk-taking, short-sighted, and non-verbal” which are compatible with the attributes of criminal behavior –that is, “short-lived, immediately gratifying, easy, simple, and exciting” (Gottfredson and Hirschi, 1990). In summary, the general theory of crime makes three claims about selfcontrol: it is acquired in childhood, it is not simply a synonym for criminality, and can be defined independent of criminal behavior, and it is the major explanatory variable in crime (Longshore, 1998). This researcher read and evaluated three articles on tests of the general theory of crime. The first was Douglas Longshore’s article “Self-Control and Criminal Opportunity: A Prospective Test of the General Theory of Crime”. This study conducted a prospective test of self-control and opportunity as predictors of property and personal crime among drug-using offenders. Results showed that property and personal crimes were more frequent among
Dr. Lane, Research Proposal Ex 4, Spring 2001, page 3
offenders lower on self-control and those with higher opportunity. About four percent of the variance in each type of crime was predicted by the low-self control variables (Longshore, 1998).