Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Document Type



The association between perceived discrimination and engagement in criminal offending has been well studied, especially in samples of minority (predominantly Black, Hispanic, and Latinx) adolescents. Several theories have been developed (Social Schematic Theory) and adapted (General Strain Theory) in an attempt to explain how harmful, discriminatory experiences may have an effect on an individual’s behavior. There may be variability in how an individual responds to perceived discrimination, however, but the moderating role of personality characteristics has not been explored. Impulse control and callous-unemotional (CU) traits are both established predictors of offending and may also relate to the mechanisms that theories propose to explain the relationship between discrimination and offending. The purpose of the current study was to explore the relationship between major discrimination events and day-to-day discriminatory experiences and offending in an ethnically diverse sample of young adult males (N = 899) and to consider the potential moderating role of impulse control and CU traits. Perceived discrimination was positively associated with self-reported offending this relationship was found irrespective of the young adult’s race or ethnicity. Further, evidence of moderation by CU traits and impulse control was found in the prediction of official arrests, such that the relationship between perceived discrimination and the likelihood of arrest was negative for young adult males with elevated CU traits and those with higher levels of impulse control. The findings have implications for informing theories of crime, culturally competent treatment, and a greater understanding of the public health risks of discrimination.

Committee Chair

Frick, Paul J