Effortful Control, Negative Emotionality, and Juvenile Recidivism

RJFPcover 1..2Baglivio, Michael T., Kevin T. Wolff, Matt DeLisi, Michael G. Vaughn and Alex R. Piquero (forthcoming 2016). Effortful Control, Negative Emotionality, and Juvenile Recidivism: An Empirical Test of DeLisi and Vaughn’s Temperament-based Theory of Antisocial Behavior . Journal of Forensic Psychiatry & Psychology, published online before print, February 17, 2016.

Recently, DeLisi and Vaughn articulated a temperament-based theory of antisocial behavior which they expressed as the first within criminology to use temperament explicitly, and as the exclusive explanatory construct of both antisocial behavior and negative interactions with the criminal justice system. We provide an initial empirical test of the theory’s two main constructs of effortful control (EC) and negative emotionality (NE) with respect to juvenile offending using a sample of 27,712 adjudicated youth. Cox regressions reveal youth with lower levels of EC and those with higher NE re-offend faster, controlling for demographics plus many prominent risk factors. Furthermore, the approximately 5% of youth at the extreme ends of both low EC and high NE evidence higher recidivism rates and faster time to failure. The findings show strong initial support for temperament theory, and we discuss relevancy for future research, prevention and intervention.