The Social Transmission of Delinquency: Effects of Peer Attitudes and Behavior Revisited

Kim C.I.M. Megens, Frank M. Weerman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

45 Citations (Scopus)


While a growing number of longitudinal studies contribute to our knowledge on the relationship between delinquent peers and one's own delinquent behavior, researchers have generally approached the issue in a restricted way: failing to identify mediating processes or to distinguish between what peers approve of and what they do. Moreover, most studies have used indirect, perceptual measurements, which may have led to biased results. The present study examines the relative effects of peer attitudes toward delinquency and peer delinquent behavior on adolescents' delinquent behavior, using social network data from the School Study of the Netherlands Institute for the Study of Crime and Law Enforcement (NSCR). The results suggest that peer attitudes and attitude transference play a more important role in the social transmission of delinquency than previous research has indicated. Nevertheless, the results also provide evidence for a remaining direct effect of peer delinquent behavior on adolescents' self-reported delinquency.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)420-443
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Research in Crime and Delinquency
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2012
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: This research was supported by funding from the Netherlansd Organization for Scientific Research.


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