Risky lifestyles, routine activities, and the general theory of crime

David R. Forde, Leslie W. Kennedy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

148 Scopus citations


Gottfredson and Hirschi’s A General Theory of Crime proposes that low selfcontrol is a cause of criminal behavior. Several recent studies, showing mixed support, test this theory for understanding crime and imprudent behavior. In this paper we reassess the general theory of crime and highlight the importance of proximate causes, including routine conflict, in explaining the propensity toward violence. Drawing from the insights provided by routine activities theory, we operationalize risky behavior. We analyze data collected in 1994 in a survey of respondents from two Canadian provinces. Our results show that elements of low self-control do not directly affect crime, although measures of self-control have strong effects on imprudent behavior which relate, in turn, to offending. Adding measures of proximate causes, we are better able to understand criminal offending and victimization by respecifying the general theory of crime.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)265-288
Number of pages24
JournalJustice Quarterly
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1997
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Law


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