Perceptual deterrence and the mediating effect of internalized norms among inner-city teenagers

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Two limitations of perceptual deterrence research are that it generally uses samples with high stakes in conformity and does not examine interrelations between the threat of legal sanctions, social sanctions, and internalized norms. Although some results suggest that the perceived certainty of legal sanctions deters, little is known about perceptions of inner-city teenagers responsible for a disproportionate amount of recorded crime. This study tested the hypotheses that perceived risk of arrest would not relate to delinquency among a sample of inner-city high school students and that internalized norms mediate the relation between social sanctions and delinquency. Risk of arrest was not related to self-reported delinquency, even at the bivariate level; and multivariate analyses indicated that peers, adult models, and the severity of parents' punishment were the significant predictors of behavior. The results also supported the hypothesis that internalized norms mediate the impact of social sanctions associated with delinquency.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)414-442
Number of pages29
JournalJournal of Research in Crime and Delinquency
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 1997

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology


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