What Lies Ahead

An Exploration of Future Orientation, Self-Control, and Delinquency



Samantha S. Clinkinbeard

Criminal Justice Review

March 2014






Self-control has been consistently linked to antisocial behavior and though low self-control makes delinquency more likely, neither the findings nor the theory suggests that low self-control necessitates participation in such behavior. There remains a shortage of research on those situational factors or individual characteristics that might lessen the effects of low self-control on antisocial behavior. Future orientation is one such characteristic that can have implications for the control of behavior. The purpose of the current study was to explore the independent and interactive effects of future orientation and low self-control on delinquency using data from Wave 1 of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. A series of regressions showed that self-control and future orientation had independent effects on delinquent behavior. Further, future-oriented achievement expectations conditioned the effect of self-control on delinquency such that the effects of self-control were weakened with increases in future orientation. The findings suggest that prevention programs should place more emphasis on helping youth plan for the future. Further, research should more fully explore the other aspects of future orientation (e.g., specificity of planning and change/stability of aspirations), as they relate to self-control and delinquency.





Human Services and Justice Coordinating Committee