It's time: A meta-analysis on the self-control-deviance link

Alexander T. Vazsonyi, Jakub Mikuška, Erin L. Kelley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

326 Scopus citations


Purpose The current meta-analysis examines the link between self-control and measures of crime and deviance, taking stock of the empirical status of self-control theory and focusing on work published between 2000 and 2010. Methods A total of 796 studies were reviewed for inclusion/exclusion criteria and yielded a final study sample of 99 studies (88 cross-sectional and 19 longitudinal effect sizes, analyzed separately). Random effects mean correlations between self-control and deviance were analyzed for cross-sectional and longitudinal studies, respectively. Publication bias was assessed using multiple methods. Results A random effects mean correlation between self-control and deviance was Mr = 0.415 for cross-sectional studies and Mr = 0.345 for longitudinal ones; this effect did not significantly differ by study design. Studies with more male participants, studies based on older or US-based populations, and self-report studies found weaker effects. Conclusions Substantial empirical support was found for the main argument of self-control theory and on the transdisciplinary link between self-control and measures of crime and deviance. In contrast to Pratt and Cullen, but consistent with theory, the effect from cross-sectional versus longitudinal studies did not significantly differ. There was no evidence of publication bias.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)48-63
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Criminal Justice
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 The Authors


  • Crime
  • Delinquency
  • General theory of crime
  • Self-control theory
  • Self-regulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Applied Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Law


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