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Stability, Continuity & Criminal Behavior

Updated on July 18, 2016

Criminal Justice literature

Criminal Justice Issues
Criminal Justice Issues

This is a good read with a lot of resource information in the field of criminal justice and criminology.


The purpose of this essay is to expound upon imperial information regarding the subjects of stability, continuity, and how they relate to criminality.

According to our text (Wright et al., 2008), sociologists have been studying human behavior for over sixty years and they have found that there are many traits that remain stable from birth until death.

Concerning stability and criminal behavior Caspi & Silva mention that not only does IQ remain stable over time, but too, other traits such as impulsiveness and inattentiveness (Caspi & Silva, 1995). According to Olweus (1979), IQ is one of the most studied traits in the world, and coincidentally proved to show strong stability over time.

Per Loeber (1982), stability is basically classified as consistency of criminal behavior over a length of time. According to our text (Wright et al., 2008), the measuring of stability is just about as far from easy as something can get.

Criminologists’ who have done extensive research on the subject of stability and its’ relation to criminality have focused on three different sources of input (Wright et al., 2008). According to Petersilia’s review three areas of study for conducting experiments regarding stability of criminal behavior are official records, direct observation, and self-reports of misconduct (Petersilia, 1980). Further; research tells us that homotypic continuity can help categorize variables such as peer influences on criminal stability, and have proven to show consistency in measurements which contribute to research validity (Wright et al., p.24, 2008). While many studies on stability do not take into account the difference age has on their research, and the traits being studied, normative stability does appear to be consistent in the ranking of criminals concerning criminality (Alwin, 1994).

Concerning the subjects of continuity and stability lies Asendorpf’s reference to both; continuity applies to maintenance while stability is better associated with consistency (Asendorpf, 1992). In our text Wright mentions that consistency of certain characteristics; such as impulsivity and daringness, measured early in life can be predictors of later criminal behavior thus per our earlier definition of stability are these consistent characteristics solidified into valid predictors of future criminal conduct (Wright et al., 2008).

It has been proven that youth that show high levels of antisocial behavior or very low levels of antisocial behavior patterns that these patterns tend remain stable over time. Also, it has been said that pro-social behavior is the strongest and most stable measurable trait over time (Wright et al., 2008).

Wherefore from the research studied in this report it appears that stability and continuity of antisocial behavior, and its’ relationship usually remain relatively stable over time. These variables are also often strong predictors of future criminal conduct.

Works Cited

Caspi, A., & Silva, P. A. (1995). Temperamental qualities at age three predict personality traits in young adulthood: Longitudinal evidence from a birth cohort. Child development, 66 (2), 486-498.

Loeber, R. (1982). The stability of antisocial and delinquent child behavior: A review. Child Development, 53 (6), 1431-1446.

Olweus, D. (1979). Stability of aggressive reaction patterns in males: A review. Psychological Bulletin, 86, 852-875.

Petersilia, J. (1980). Criminal career research: A review of recent evidence. Crime and Justice, 2, 321-379.

Wright, J. P., Tibbetts, S. G., & Daigle, L. E. (2008). Criminals in the making. Criminality across the life course.


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