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Self-control and crime revisited: Disentangling the effect of self-control on risk taking and antisocial behavior

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  • Friehe, Tim
  • Schildberg-Hörisch, Hannah

Abstract

Low self-control is considered a fundamental cause of crime. The aim of our study is to provide causal evidence on the link between self-control and criminal behavior. We test whether individuals with lower self-control behave in a more antisocial manner and are less risk-averse and thus are, according to both the General Theory of Crime and the economic literature on criminal behavior, more likely to engage in criminal activities. In order to exogenously vary the level of self-control in a laboratory experiment, we use a well-established experimental manipulation, a so-called depletion task. We find that subjects with low self-control take more risk. The effect of self-control on antisocial behavior is small and not significant. In sum, our findings are consistent with the proposition that low self-control is a facilitator of crime to the extent that individuals with lower levels of self-control are less effectively deterred by probabilistic sanctions.

Suggested Citation

  • Friehe, Tim & Schildberg-Hörisch, Hannah, 2017. "Self-control and crime revisited: Disentangling the effect of self-control on risk taking and antisocial behavior," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(C), pages 23-32.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:irlaec:v:49:y:2017:i:c:p:23-32
    DOI: 10.1016/j.irle.2016.11.001
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    Cited by:

    1. Kocher, Martin G. & Lucks, Konstantin E. & Schindler, David, 2016. "Unleashing Animal Spirits - Self-Control and Overpricing in Experimental Asset Markets," Discussion Papers in Economics 27572, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
    2. Sonnabend, Hendrik & Stadtmann, Georg, 2018. "Good intentions and unintended evil? Adverse effects of criminalizing clients in paid sex markets with voluntary and involuntary prostitution," Discussion Papers 400, European University Viadrina Frankfurt (Oder), Department of Business Administration and Economics.
    3. repec:eee:eecrev:v:100:y:2017:i:c:p:463-487 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Tim Friehe & Hannah Schildberg-Hörisch, 2018. "Predicting norm enforcement: the individual and joint predictive power of economic preferences, personality, and self-control," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 45(1), pages 127-146, February.
    5. Gerhardt, Holger & Schildberg-Hörisch, Hannah & Willrodt, Jana, 2017. "Does self-control depletion affect risk attitudes?," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 100(C), pages 463-487.
    6. repec:oup:rfinst:v:32:y:2019:i:6:p:2149-2178. is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Self-control; Risk taking; Antisocial behavior; Criminal behavior; Ego-depletion; Experiment;

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law

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