Situational Peer Effects on Delinquency1

Richard B. Felson, Alexander J. Vanhee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


We examine the situational effects of delinquent friends and unstructured socializing on the commission of thirteen types of offenses. We use the method of situational decomposition to disentangle the effects of situational influence from historical effects and confounding variables. Analyses are based on the Second International Self-Reported Delinquency Study (N = 73,000). They show that situational effects account for a substantial portion of the relationships between: (1) delinquency and the delinquency of friends; and (2) delinquency and unstructured socializing. The evidence suggests that situational conformity and opportunity are important in explaining why adolescents commit delinquency. Adolescents are much more likely to engage in offenses when they are socializing with friends, particularly when they are present when those friends are engaged in delinquency.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)427-449
Number of pages23
JournalJustice Quarterly
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Law


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