An Examination of Self-Control and the Family Structure
Melissa Sue Bleininger
Adrian Jones, Ph.D.
Department of Sociology
Kent State University at Tuscarawas
Gottfredson and Hirschi are the leading authorities concerning a major criminological theory called the general theory of crime. The main theoretical assumption and finding is that self-control is related to criminal behavior (Gottfredson and Hirschi 1990). According to Gottfredson and Hirschi (1990), parental attachment is the greatest influence on the development of self-control. Due to the belief that more factors are important for self-control than parental attachment, many researchers have examined other influences (e.g., Pratt and Cullen 2000) Additional factors in my research include family structure, frequency of religious practice, participation in hobbies, and sports participation. I hypothesize that these factors have a significant influence on self-control development, in addition to parental attachment. I used The National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (ADD Health) to analyze bivariate correlations, independent-samples t-tests, and regressions. My results supported Gottfredson and Hirschi’s (1990) finding that parental attachment is the greatest influence on self-control. However, I discovered other influences such as religious practices and participation in hobbies and sports are positively related to self-control. Additionally, I discovered that family structure is related to self-control, albeit a smaller influence than parental attachment. While my research supported Gottfredson and Hirschi’s theory, more work needs done to fully understand the development of self-control. In the future, researchers should examine other variables to see what additional factors are related to self-con