Satisfaction with life and crime: testing the link

Jeremy Olson, Randy L. Martin, Nadine M. Connell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


This study tests the hypothesis that higher perceptions of satisfaction with life (SWL) are related to lower engagement in crime and deviance. The results can inform prevention, intervention, and policy efforts based on deterrence, general strain, and restorative justice within the criminal and juvenile justice systems. Using a sample of students at two Pennsylvania universities, data were collected using a paper-based, self-reported survey that included measures for their perceptions of SWL, feelings of strain, and engagement in past acts of deviance and crime. Data analysis included independent samples T-tests and logistic regression estimates. Results of the t-tests supported the hypothesis for nine of 16 acts of deviance/crime. Logistic regression models supported the hypothesis, with SWL having significant associations alone, and with SWL eliminating the relationship to strain alone when SWL covaried with strain. Based on these results, the study offers recommendations to further test the satisfaction with life-crime link, to incorporate SWL interventions into the criminal justice system, and to study SWL interventions for evidence of success.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)631-655
Number of pages25
JournalPsychology, Crime and Law
Issue number7
StatePublished - 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • General Psychology
  • Law


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