A Comprehensive Examination of Hypotheses

Research hypotheses and a short description of their importance

There are three hypotheses that were tested in this research. This section discusses the hypotheses with reference to relevant scientific literature. The first hypothesis is that there is a significant difference between criminals and non-criminals in terms of moral emotion and self-control. Antonaccio and Tittle (2008) write that while the link between self-control and criminality has been studied in criminology literature, there has been little focus on the link between moral emotion and criminality. On the other hand, sociologists like Emile Durkheim have studied the links between social organisation and morality and how this link impacts crime in society (Antonaccio & Tittle, 2008). Recently, studies have shown that the variable of lack of morality may be useful in predicting criminal behaviour (Rogers, Smoak, & Liu, 2006; Hannon, DeFronzo, & Prochnow, 2001). However, research has not been successful in establishing whether morality is one of the variables that can be used to predict criminality or whether it is the principal factor in determining conformity to social norms or deviating from social norms (Antonaccio & Tittle, 2008).

The theoretical framework on morality and crime developed by Wikstrom (2006) and Wikstrom and Treiber (2007), which they have called Situational Action Theory (SAT), posits that human action generally, including, action related to crime and deviance, is for the better part, a product of individual perceptions of alternatives and choices of actions, wherein the primary characteristic that influences how individuals perceive the alternative actions or choices available to them, is their moral understanding. The question of how individuals respond to certain social circumstances by either deviating from social norms or breaching rules of law may depend to a great extent on the moral makeup and the ability of self-control of the individuals (Wikström & Svensson, 2010 ). There is a basis for arguing that there is a significant difference between criminals and non-criminals in terms of moral emotion and self-control, because the individual’s acts of crime and deviance may be primarily the “outcome of his or her moral engagement with the moral context of a setting” (Wikström & Svensson, 2010 , p. 397). As per the argument put forth by SAT, “people commit crimes because of who they are (their morality and capability to exercise self-control) and because of the environment in which they operate (its moral context – collective moral rules and their enforcement)” (Wikström & Svensson, 2010 , p. 398).

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The first hypothesis becomes significant in the light of the literature that studies the links between crime and morality and self-control, because in case moral make up of an individual, and the ability of the individual to exercise self-control is indeed significant variables in the possibility of criminal behaviour, then it may be posited that there must be some significant differences between criminals and non-criminals in terms of moral emotion and self-control.

The second hypothesis is that moral emotion and self-control have an impact on the probability of offending.

Low self-control has been linked to offending in criminology literature, and it has been considered that both crimes, as well as analogous behaviours, are linked to low self-control. Thus, not only criminality, but also behaviours such as rash driving, alcohol addiction, and other forms of addiction, are linked to low self-control. However, it is also argued that it is not just self-control, but also morality that is a predictor of crime (Wikström & Treiber, 2007 ). Thus, both self-control and moral emotion may have an impact on the probability of offending.

plays a more important role on crime causation, while recent studies, such as the one by Wikström and Svensson (2010), do indicate that there may be an interaction effect between self-control and moral emotion. Wikström and Svensson (2010) found that individuals with high levels of morality commit less self-reported offending regardless of their levels of self-control. This study tests whether moral emotion or self-control play significant roles in crime causation and if so, which is the strongest predictor of crime. Thus, the research question as to whether moral emotion and self-control have an impact on the probability of offending. The third hypothesis in the study is that moral emotion and self-control have an impact on the severity of the crime (represented by total crime frequency) and moral emotion is the strongest predictor of crime.

Wikstrom (2006) defines morality as those rules that prescribe the standards of right and wrong action. He argues that while general morality may be stable and found in habitual standards followed by individuals, moral rules can also be priented in a specific sense and may guide human behaviour in particular circumstances (Wikstrom, 2006). Furthermore, it is argued that most individuals would refrain from misconduct or deviant behaviour because they may not see crime as a viable alternative as per their own moral beliefs, or their moral action itself may be habitual and not amenable to deviant behaviour (Wikstrom, 2006). This is not only related to specific criminal behaviour, but may be applied to all kinds of deviant and criminal behaviour. It is also argued that morality may be a better predictor of deviant behaviour as compared to self-control because self-control is a relevant factor only in those rare situations where individuals experience conflict between their morality and criminal motivation (Wikstrom, 2006). It has been noted in another study that morality can mediate the relationship between self-control and measures of crime (Longshore, Chang, & Messina, 2005 ). In more focused research on the relationship between self-control and morality by Antonaccio and Tittle (2008), it was found that morality may show to have stronger associations with measures of crime as compared to self-control and may be able to better withstand the influence of control variables as compared to self-control. At the same time, the study found that self-control is a strong predictor of criminal behaviour although it may not be the strongest variable (Antonaccio & Tittle, 2008).

The findings of Antonaccio and Tittle (2008) correspond with the findings in a range of other studies (Wikstrom, 2006; Wikstrom & Treiber, 2007; Wikström & Svensson, 2010 ), that show that morality is a more significant predictor of crime as compared to self-control. The third hypothesis is based on literature that has shown the link between morality and crime to be stronger as compared to the link between self-control and crime.

Descriptive statistics for all the variables.

As per the frequency analysis, 59.9% (n = 421) of the respondents were non-criminal while 40.1% (n = 282) were criminal. Further, descriptive analysis shows that mean crime frequency comes out to be 5.41, mean poor self-control was 10.58 and mean moral emotions was 2.53.

The results of the statistical tests.

For the first research question, a t-test was used to probe whether there is a significant difference between criminals and non-criminals in terms of moral emotion and self-control. 420 respondents for the test, affirmed that they had not been involved in any commission of theft in the last 12 months. 282 respondents admitted to have committed theft in the last 12 months. The mean poor self-control score for people who did not steal anything in last year was 9.39 (SD = 3.99) and that of people who stole something in last year was 12.35 (SD = 4.18). These results reflect that there is a difference in self-control between the two groups of respondents. Whether this difference is significant or not was sought to be determined from the independent t-test results. The independent t-test yielded the results: t(700) = -9.45; p = 0.000. Since the p-value or the significance value was at 0.000, which is less than the critical alpha value of 0.05, it can be said that there is a statistically significant difference in the self-control score between people who stole in the last 12 months and people who did not steal in the same period of time. It may be said that respondents who had committed theft in the last 12 months had significantly lower self control as compared to those who did not steal anything in the same period.

The results for the first research question suggests that there is a significant difference between criminals and non-criminals in terms of moral emotion and self-control. For the second research question, logistic regression was used to verify if moral emotion and self-control have an impact on the probability of offending. As per the results of the logistic regression, Cox & Snell R Square is at 0.195, and Nagelkerke R Square is at 0.263. There is a variation of 19.5% to 26.3%, which can be explained in Total Crime Prevalence due to Poor Self Control and Moral Emotions. The variance shows that the p-value or the significance value for both the independent variables, that is, poor self-control and moral emotion, is at 0.000, which is less than the critical alpha value of 0.05. The results for the second research question indicates that there is a statistically significant impact of both the variables on the total crime prevalence.

For the third research question, linear regression was used to test if moral emotion and self-control have an impact on the severity of the crime (represented by total crime frequency). The results of the linear regression show that the regression coefficient r2 comes out to be 0.096. This means that with a 100% change in the independent variables, which are poor self-control and moral emotions, a variation of 9.6% can be seen in the dependent variable, which is, total crime frequency. Whether this variation is significant or not, can be assessed with the help of the ANOVA analysis. As per this ANOVA analysis, F(2, 699) = 37.22; p = 0.000. Since the p-value or the significance value is at 0.000, which is less than the critical alpha value of 0.05, it can be said that the above relationship is statistically significant. As per the coefficient table, the coefficient of poor self-control is positive while that of moral emotions is negative. This shows that of the two independent variables, poor self-control has a positive impact while moral emotions have a negative impact on total crime frequency. Further, the p-value or the significance value for both the independent variables, that is, poor self-control and moral emotions is less than the critical alpha value of 0.05. Therefore, it can be said that there is a statistically significant impact of both the variables on the total crime frequency. The results for the third research question indicate that there is a statistically significant impact of both the variables on the total crime frequency.

Proposal for a research study that expands on the analysis conducted in Part I

One of the biggest limitations of this research was structural bias. It can be explained by the fact that this study was developed in such a manner that would have shown the perspective of the researcher, rather than providing unbiased and true analysis of the subject matter. This also meant that the study failed to present detailed views of the respondents, as it mainly showed viewpoints of the researcher. Another major limitation was regarding the methods of data collection. In this study, the scholar collected quantitative data. Although it is very useful in accurately representing the subject matter, it presented the data only in a numerical form. Due to this reason, the researcher was unable to collect detailed views about the subject matter. This study failed to provide detailed narratives about the research topic.

Methodology

On the basis of the above limitations, it can be said that there is a need to conduct a detailed research about the subject matter. This will help in getting a better understanding of the research topic. In this regard, the study will be based on a qualitative design. This will help in collecting data that represents the subject matter as well as the target population in a thorough and detailed manner. Qualitative research will allow the researcher to get closer to the participants.

Sampling

The previous part of this research was mainly based on secondary data. In this research, primary data will also be collected and used. In this regard, the sample population will be 16-year-olds, and the sample size will be 702.

Data Collection

The process of data collection will be of utmost importance for the current study. The success of this research will primarily depend on the process as well as tools of data collection. Thus it will be imperative for the researcher to have a thorough understanding of such tools and select as well as use them wisely, as these can have a significant impact on the overall research process. In this study qualitative approach for data collection will be used. Herein the researcher will conduct qualitative interviews of people from the target or the sample population. Through this approach, the researcher will be able to get a better understanding of the research topic about understanding the interlinkages between crime probability and moral emotion and self-control.

Data Analysis

To analyse the primary data collected by interviews, the researcher will use the thematic technique. The use of this method will enable the scholar to obtain a detailed understanding of viewpoints and thoughts of the participants. Moreover, through this technique, the scholar will be able to present the perspectives of the respondents in a better manner. Such an analysis will be carried out in three stages. The first stage will be about data reduction; the second stage will relate to the exploration of the data, and the last stage will be the integration of the data by organising them into themes.

Ethics

The researcher will pay special attention to ensuring that data about the participants is not leaked. This will be a very important aspect because generally there are high chances of information of the respondents being accessed by a third party. In order to ensure that such mistakes do not arise, the researcher will keep a digital copy of the interviews and save them on their computer. Further, ethical guidelines provided by the university will be strictly followed.

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Bibliography

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