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

Tim Friehe and Hannah Schildberg-Hörisch
Authors registered in the RePEc Author Service: Hannah Schildberg-Hoerisch ()

International Review of Law and Economics, 2017, vol. 49, issue C, 23-32

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.

Keywords: Self-control; Risk taking; Antisocial behavior; Criminal behavior; Ego-depletion; Experiment (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: C91 D03 K42 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2017
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