Megan McNeil

Document Type

Honors Project

First Advisor

Dr. Timothy Brazill

Degree Award Date

Spring 2012


Differential Association, Social Control Theory, Modeling, Integrative Approach, Predicting Deviance, Youth


Social Control, Law, Crime, and Deviance | Sociology


This study replicates and expands on the research of Hochstetler, Copes, and Delisi (2002) which examined the effect of differential association on group and solo offending in youth. The theory of differential association claims that an individual's deviant actions and motivations are learned Gust like conforming behavior) through interactions with significant others. A person is more likely to be involved in deviant behavior when others they associate with are involved. While Hochstetler, Copes, and Delisi (2002) found some support for differential association, they also found that some elements were not supported. In an attempt to explain these findings, this study examines social control theory and modeling in addition to differential association in order to predict levels of deviance. Social control theory asks why most people are not deviant. It claims that most people are socialized into society and controlled through their bonds. The bonding process begins with attachments to others at a young age. Those that do not make this bond will be less likely to be attached to people and more likely to commit deviant behavior. Modeling theory explains that people mimic behaviors that they see either in their daily lives (family, peers, neighborhood) or in the media. Modeling does not require interaction with others. Instead behaviors are learned through observation. The overall results of this study indicate that an integrative approach, including but not limited to differential association, social control, and modeling, is necessary to account for different types of deviant behaviors and different reasons for offending.