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The purpose of this study was to determine the role of individual differences (i.e., belief in a just world and authoritarianism), and attitude (i.e., attitudes toward the criminal legal system), in predicting delinquent behavior. High school students (412 males, 423 females) completed questionnaires that measured demographics, belief in a just world (BJW), authoritarianism (RWA), attitudes toward the criminal legal system (ATCLS), and delinquent behavior. Two models were assessed in this study. The first was a direct model, which assessed whether individual differences or attitude best predicted rule-violating behavior. The second was an integrating model, which assessed the role of both factors, individual differences and attitude, as predictors of rule-violating behavior. For male adolescents, the direct model best predicted delinquency, suggesting negative ATCLS was the sole significant predictor of rule-violating behavior. In contrast, for females, the integrating model best predicted delinquency, as negative ATCLS mediated the negative relation between BJW and delinquency, and partially mediated the negative relation between RWA and delinquency. The implications of gender differences in predicting delinquent behavior are discussed.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2007

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