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11 J. Res. Crime & Delinquency 1 (1974)

handle is hein.journals/jrcd11 and id is 1 raw text is: 



  Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency

VOLUME 11                      JANUARY 1974                       NUMBER 1




            The Adequacy of Differential

                     Association Theory 1

                                 REED ADAMS
              Director, Law Enforcement and Administration Program,
                     University of North Carolina at Charlotte
           Ph.D.  (Sociology/Criminology), 1971, Florida State University

         Differential association has been the most widely disseminated
       of the criminological theories, yet has remained untested. An in-
       novation  in the intellectual life of the theory has suggested a
       means  of testing its adequacy but not its validity. Recent papers
       have suggested that the theory is inadequate by its failure to con-
       sider nonsocial (noninteractive) determinants of behavior.  This
       paper reports a review of empirical studies which allow the effects
       of social and nonsocial independent variables to be contrasted and
       a randomized  two-factor design experiment of the effect of a social
       and  a nonsocial variable on theft behavior. Both the experiment
       and  the literature review suggest that nonsocial variables should
       be considered  by theories of human behavior. The  evidence does
       not support differential association theory.


D   IFFERENTIAL ASSOCIATION, generally
     recognized   as  a sociological/
earning   theory, has  attracted more
attention over a longer period of time
than  any other criminological theory.
Yet, the theory remains essentially un-
tested, as researchers have been unable
  1. Support for this paper was provided
'by National Institute of Law Enforcement
'nd  Criminal Justice Grants NI-150 and
NI-71081GF4 and by the cooperation of the
State of Florida Division of Youth Services.
Such support does not necessarily indicate
concurrence with statements or conclusions
,kptained therein. Jon Bailey, H. J. Vetter,
Peter Lewis, Harry Allen, Edward Malm-
gren, Patrick Michaud, Vernon Fox, and
Douglas Zahn provided valuable advice and
assistance. However, only the author is re-
sponsible for the final document.
          '. I


to adequately  operationalize the the-
ory's concepts. Previous  attempts  to
test the theory have attempted to cor-
relate some measure  of delinquent be-
havior with  the degree  to which  the
subjects associated with criminal pat-
terns.2 Those  studies have  revealed
  2. V. M. Matthews, Differential Identifi-
cation: An Empirical Note, Social Prob-
lems, 15:376-383, 1968; A. J. Reiss and A. L.
Rhodes, An Empirical Test of Differential
Association Theory, Journal of Research in
Crime and Delinquency, 1:15-18, 1964; J. F.
Short, Jr., Differential Association and De-
linquency, Social Problems, 4:233-239, 1957;
J. F. Short, Jr., Differential Association with
Delinquent Friends and Delinquent Behav-
ior, Pacific Sociological Review, 1:20-25,
1958; J. F. Short, Jr., Differential Asso-
ciation as a Hypothesis: Problems of Em-

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