Theoretical questions linger over the applicability of the verbal ability model to African Americans and the social control theory hypothesis that educational failure mediates the effect of verbal ability on offending patterns.
Accordingly, this paper investigates whether verbal ability distinguishes between offending groups within the context of Moffitt's developmental taxonomy. Questions are addressed with longitudinal data spanning childhood through young-adulthood from an ongoing national panel, and multinomial and hierarchical Poisson models (over-dispersed).
In multinomial models, low verbal ability predicts membership in a life-course-persistent-oriented group relative to an adolescent-limited-oriented group. Hierarchical models indicate that verbal ability is associated with arrest outcomes among White and African American subjects, with effects consistently operating through educational attainment (high school dropout).
The results support Moffitt's hypothesis that verbal deficits distinguish adolescent-limited- and life-course-persistent-oriented groups within race as well as the social control model of verbal ability.
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- 1Paul Bellair (Ph.D., University at Albany, State University of New York) is a Professor in the Department of Sociology at The Ohio State University. His current research tests theoretical explanations for race differences in violence and recidivism, tests theory pertaining to the effect of verbal ability on delinquency, and examines the social networks and employment experiences of prisoners.
- 2Thomas McNulty is an Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Georgia. His specialty areas include criminology, urban sociology, and research methods. His most recent work focuses on developing and testing multilevel theoretical models of racial and ethnic differences in crime/violence, with emphasis on the role of individual differences within the context of family, school, and neighborhood environments.
- 3Alex Piquero is Ashbel Smith Professor of Criminology at the University of Texas at Dallas, Adjunct Professor Key Centre for Ethics, Law, Justice, and Governance, Griffith University Australia, Faculty Affiliate, Center for Violence and Injury Prevention George Warren Brown School of Social Work Washington University in St. Louis, and Co-Editor, Journal of Quantitative Criminology. His research interests include criminal careers, criminological theory, and quantitative research methods. He has received several research, teaching, and mentoring awards and is Fellow of both the American Society of Criminology and the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences.
- Justice Q. 2016;33(3):455-480. Epub 2014 May 21.
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