• Journal Article

Life Stress, Anger and Anxiety, and Delinquency: An Empirical Test of General Strain Theory

Citation

Aseltine, R. H., Gore, S., & Gordon, J. (2000). Life Stress, Anger and Anxiety, and Delinquency: An Empirical Test of General Strain Theory. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 41(3), 256-275.

Abstract

General strain theory (Agnew 1992) departs from traditional strain theories by emphasizing the role of the individual's affective responses to negative life experiences in fostering deviant behavior. In this analysis, we examine the central hypotheses of general strain theory using data from a three-wave panel study of high school youths in the Boston metropolitan area (N = 939). Covariance structure models reveal that anger and hostility in response to negative life events do play a causal role in fostering more aggressive forms of delinquency, but are not significantly related to either nonaggressive delinquency or marijuana use. Furthermore, the conditional effects predicted by general strain theory, in which the impact of strain on delinquency varies by youths' personal and social resources, are inconsistent. Discussion centers on the prospect of increasing the utility of general strain theory by further imbuing it with concepts and perspectives from the sociology of mental illness