Criminological research has consistently demonstrated a relationship between IQ and delinquency, yet scholars continue to debate the precise mechanisms by which IQ should have an effect on delinquent behavior. Although researchers typically view the IQ-delinquency relationship as a function of "school performance," additional explanations exist that have yet to be formally tested in conjunction with one another within the same analysis. Using data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY) we extend existing research by assessing the indirect effect of IQ on delinquency through three intervening processes: school performance, deviant peer pressure, and self-control. The results indicate strong support for the school performance model (especially when linked with self-control), yet considerable evidence exists of an indirect effect of IQ on delinquency through both deviant peer pressure and self-control. The implications for future theoretical development and integration are discussed.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This study uses data from the Children of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY) data set. The NLSY is an ongoing, prospective longitudinal study funded by the United States Department of Labor. It has been administered yearly since 1979 to a national probability sample of individuals who, at the start of the survey, ranged in age from 14 to 21. In 1986, a separate data collection process was initiated to gather information about all children born to females in the original NLSY cohort. These children and their mothers were interviewed once every two years from 1986 to 1998. Because of extensive input from developmental psychologists regarding design and measure selection, the data include rich measures of psychologically oriented variables, home observations, and repeated measures of children's behavior (Brooks-Gunn, Phelps, & Elder, 1991).