Why are some people more likely to commit crime than others? Answers to this question can be grouped according to two competing approaches. On the one hand, those who favor a dispositional perspective argue that stable factors within the individual, such as lack of self-control, are a root cause of criminal conduct. Proponents of a sociogenic perspective, on the other hand, who put the locus of study outside the individual, point to external factors, such as rough neighborhoods, parental unemployment, and deviant peers, as the main causes of crime. Research into both perspectives has identified hundreds of correlates of criminal behavior, yet how these correlates are related is still largely uncharted territory. This research program aims to integrate both views on the basis of a novel theoretical perspective, one that draws from criminology, social psychology, and evolutionary theory. This approach is premised on the assumption that short-term mindsets encourage crime and illustrates how both individual dispositions and sociogenic variables can encourage such mindsets.
Insofar as short-term thinking is a major cause of crime and is dynamic, changes in shortsightedness can be expected to produce changes in (re-)offending. Using multi-wave data, this project examines the nature of the relationship among contextual risk factors, short-term mindsets, and delinquency. The project will establish the extent to which observed changes in shortsightedness are consequential for offending and will identify the factors that influence these changes. This research program uses data from a unique longitudinal project that has been following a large sample of Swiss urban youth, beginning when they were seven years old (Zurich Project on the Social Development from Childhood to Adulthood, www.jacobscenter.uzh.ch/en/research/zproso).
Research output: Two dissertations, scientific articles, a monograph, several conferences.
Funding: This research is funded by an ERC Consolidator Grant [Grant Number 772911–CRIMETIME].