The Contextual Generality of Crime: Workplace and Street Crime

Holly Nguyen, Rachel McNealey, Kyle J. Thomas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Objectives: We examine whether individuals engage in crime across a variety of different settings (contextual generality). Specifically, we assess whether individuals who engage in workplace crime will engage in street crime and whether certain individuals have a greater tendency to engage in workplace crime relative to street crime. We are guided by trait-based theories, learning theories, and strain theories to guide our expectations related to the contextual generality of criminal behavior. Methods: We analyze data from the National Youth Survey and conduct multinomial logistic regressions, item response theory, and ordinary least squares regressions. We supplement this with the Youth Development Survey and the Pathways to Desistance Study. Results: There is a small overlap between workplace crime and street crime. Participation in each context is related to context-specific perceived coworker/peer disapproval and deviant workplace definitions. There is a tendency for some respondents to specialize in workplace crime relative to street crime. Conclusions: Contextual generality in criminal behavior is a fruitful avenue to study theoretical debates between theories of population heterogeneity and theories that allow for specific types of offending. More studies are needed to extend this line of inquiry.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Research in Crime and Delinquency
StateAccepted/In press - 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology

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