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American College Students' Shoplifting Experience: A Comparison of Retrospective Self-Reports to Micro-Level Criminological Theory

Farmer, Forbes, J; Dawson, Jean

Jaishankar, K

This is an exploratory investigation into the relevancy of five micro-criminological theories to American college students’ self-reported shoplifting (willful concealment) experience. A 146- item Likert-style questionnaire was voluntarily completed by non-randomly selected male and female undergraduates (N=259) at four American universities. From this sample, 166 reported having shoplifted. The survey items were inspired by Akers and Sellers’ social learning theory, Sykes and Matza’s techniques of neutralization, Gottfredson and Hirschi’s self-control theory, Cornish and Clarke’s rational choice theory, and Cohen and Felson’s routine activity theory. Through factor analysis, 12 factors were developed, two or three for each theory. The results support these theories, but only certain elements of them seemed relevant to our data. We also found that self-control theory and rational choice theory were more relevant to low frequency shoplifters (one or two times), and social learning theory and routine activities theory were more associated with higher frequency shoplifters (three and more-than-three times).      

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