Does the perceived risk of punishment deter criminally prone individuals? Rational choice, self-control, and crime


Journal Article

Society's efforts to deter crime with punishment may be ineffective because those individuals most prone to commit crime often act impulsively, with little thought for the future, and so they may be unmoved by the threat of later punishment. Deterrence messages they receive, therefore, may fall on deaf ears. This article examines this issue by testing the relationship between criminal propensity, perceived risks and costs of punishment, and criminal behavior. The authors analyzed data from the Dunedin (New Zealand) Study, a longitudinal study of individuals from birth through age 26 (N = 1,002). They found that in fact, deterrence perceptions had their greatest impact on criminally prone study members.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Wright, BRE; Caspi, A; Moffitt, TE; Paternoster, R

Published Date

  • May 1, 2004

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 41 / 2

Start / End Page

  • 180 - 213

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0022-4278

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1177/0022427803260263

Citation Source

  • Scopus