The current meta-analysis examines the link between self-control and measures of crime and deviance, taking stock of the empirical status of self-control theory and focusing on work published between 2000 and 2010.

A total of 796 studies were reviewed for inclusion/exclusion criteria and yielded a final study sample of 99 studies (88 cross-sectional and 19 longitudinal effect sizes, analyzed separately). Random effects mean correlations between self-control and deviance were analyzed for cross-sectional and longitudinal studies, respectively. Publication bias was assessed using multiple methods.

A random effects mean correlation between self-control and deviance was Mr = 0.415 for cross-sectional studies and Mr = 0.345 for longitudinal ones; this effect did not significantly differ by study design. Studies with more male participants, studies based on older or US-based populations, and self-report studies found weaker effects.

Substantial empirical support was found for the main argument of self-control theory and on the transdisciplinary link between self-control and measures of crime and deviance. In contrast to Pratt and Cullen, but consistent with theory, the effect from cross-sectional versus longitudinal studies did not significantly differ. There was no evidence of publication bias.

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Published in Journal of Criminal Justice, v. 48.

© 2016 The Authors

This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).

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Funding Information

This work was supported, in part, by the John I. and Patricia J. Buster Endowment to the first author.