Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Michael J. Leiber, Ph.D

Committee Member

Wesley G. Jennings, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Ojmarrh Mitchell, Ph.D.


general strain theory, negative emotions, race, ethnicity, delinquency


The present study drew on Agnew's General Strain Theory (GST) to examine the relationship between strain, race, and delinquent behavior. To address this possible association, five hypotheses were tested to examine if different types of strain and stress exposure influence delinquent coping and if these relationships are conditioned by race and ethnicity. Using data from the Add Health Study, White, African American, and Hispanic adolescents, the present study attempts to generalize GST to different racial and ethnic groups.

Results from OLS and negative binomial regression analyses indicate that some support was found for GST, in that indicators of strain to varying degrees predicted negative emotionality and youth involvement in nonserious and serious delinquency. Negative emotionality, however, did not mediate the relationship between strain and nonserious and serious delinquency. While, White, African American, and Hispanic youth did experience certain types of strain that lead to delinquent coping, these groups overall were not statistically different from one another. Furthermore, race and ethnicity were directly related to delinquent coping mechanisms, providing evidence that GST cannot fully explain the overrepresentation of minorities as delinquent offenders. A discussion of the findings, theoretical implications and directions for future research are highlighted.