The Impact of Self Esteem, Family Rituals, Religiosity, and Participation in Conforming Activities upon Delinquency: A Comparison of Young Adults in Turkey and the United States

Roberts J., Gunes I. D., Seward R. R.

JOURNAL OF COMPARATIVE FAMILY STUDIES, vol.42, no.1, pp.59-77, 2011 (SSCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 42 Issue: 1
  • Publication Date: 2011
  • Doi Number: 10.3138/jcfs.42.1.59
  • Journal Indexes: Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.59-77
  • Police Academy Affiliated: No


Crime occurs in all societies and researchers all over the world have sought to identify the antecedents of deviant behavior. Two studies of young adults, one in the United States and one in Turkey, explored whether family rituals, and self-esteem might contribute to social control and consequently reduce deviant behavior. In addition, the Turkish study assessed the impact of religiosity on social control, while the U.S. study assessed the impact of participation in conforming activities. Based on Walter Reckless' Containment Theory, it was proposed that the inner containment concepts of self-esteem and religiosity and the outer containment concepts of family rituals and participation in conforming activities would reduce the number of delinquent behaviors committed by the respondents. In Turkey data were gathered from 205 incarcerated respondents and 200 college students in 2007. Data were gathered in the U.S. from 207 incarcerated respondents and 217 college students in 1998. Respondents in both nations completed the Family Rituals Questionnaire, the Culture Free Self-Esteem Inventory, and a Family Information Inventory. The Religious Background and Behavior Questionnaire was only completed by the Turkish respondents. The incarcerated groups in each nation differed significantly from the college student on the major research variables. The major research variables did not account for any significant variance in delinquent behavior except for participation in conforming activities for the U.S. college students. Social risk factors were better predictors of deviant behavior in both nations. National context had minimal impact on deviant behavior.