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When disadvantaged adolescents strike out: the impact of negative metastereotypes on delinquency

Christian Issmer (Based in the Department of Psychology, Philipps‐University Marburg, Marburg, Germany)
Jost Stellmacher (Based in the Department of Psychology, Philipps‐University Marburg, Marburg, Germany)
Mario Gollwitzer (Based in the Department of Psychology, Philipps‐University Marburg, Marburg, Germany)

Journal of Criminal Psychology

ISSN: 2009-3829

Article publication date: 15 March 2013

516

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to examine the impact of perceived negativity against the ingroup on delinquency in disadvantaged social groups. It is based on assumptions from labeling theory and social identity theory.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors hypothesized that negative metastereotypes towards the outgroup “majority society” (i.e. the perception of the outgroup holding negative stereotypes against the ingroup) would enhance delinquent behavior. Based on recent findings from research on self‐esteem and aggression, the authors further hypothesized that self‐esteem would moderate this effect, namely that delinquency‐enhancement would be strongest for individuals high in self‐esteem. The hypotheses were tested in a sample of incarcerated adolescents (n=225) and a sample of educationally disadvantaged adolescents (n=92), respectively.

Findings

Negative metastereotypes towards the “majority society” are positively related to delinquent behavior. This effect is particularly strong when disadvantaged individuals' positive self‐regard is high.

Research limitations/implications

This research gives important, new insights on the basis of cross‐sectional, correlative data. Future research should aim to corroborate the findings by use of experimental or longitudinal designs.

Originality/value

The paper shows that the perception of negative stereotypes against one's disadvantaged ingroup in society is a risk factor for delinquent behavior. It furthermore highlights how personality differences in self‐esteem influence this relationship. The research builds a bridge between criminological labeling theory and social‐psychological social identity theory.

Keywords

Citation

Issmer, C., Stellmacher, J. and Gollwitzer, M. (2013), "When disadvantaged adolescents strike out: the impact of negative metastereotypes on delinquency", Journal of Criminal Psychology, Vol. 3 No. 1, pp. 4-18. https://doi.org/10.1108/20093821311307721

Publisher

:

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2013, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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