Date of Award

Summer 8-1-2014

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Criminal Justice

First Advisor

Timothy Brezina

Second Advisor

Brent Teasdale

Third Advisor

Mark Reed

Fourth Advisor

Gabriel Kuperminc


Many scholars examining desistance from crime have emphasized the importance of social factors in triggering the desistance process. Most notably, the work of Sampson and Laub (1993) focuses on the role of social bonds (e.g., marriage and employment), which serve as turning points in offenders’ lives, while other scholars have emphasized other important social factors, such as antisocial peer influence (Stouthamer-Loeber, Wei, Loeber, Masten, 2004; Warr, 1998, 2002). However, missing from such works is the role of subjective factors (e.g., thinking patterns, expectations, self-identity) in the desistance process, despite evidence that changes in identity and other cognitive transformations promote desistance from criminal offending (Giordano, Cernkovich, & Rudolph, 2002; Maruna, 2001).

Examining the combined role of subjective and social factors is important, because it may lead to a more comprehensive understanding of the desistance process. Desistance researchers typically focus on one set of factors, while downplaying the other set of factors. Rarely have researchers examined the effects of social and subjective factors simultaneously (for exceptions, see Healy, 2010; Laub & Sampson, 2003; Morizot & Le Blanc, 2007). And even fewer attempts have been made to examine the interplay between social and subjective factors (for exceptions, see LeBel, Burnett, Maruna, & Bushway, 2008; Simons & Barr, 2012). Further, there is a special need to examine the impact of change in subjective and social factors on the desistance process using within-individual analyses (Farrington, 2007; Horney, Osgood, & Marshall, 1995; Kazemian, 2007).

Thus, research on desistance is advanced in the current study in the following three ways. First, the influence of both subjective and social factors on desistance are considered, within the same statistical model. Second, this study is based on within-individual analyses. Third, the interplay between subjective and social factors is explored in this study, including mediation and moderation (interaction) effects. Data used in the current study are drawn from the Pathways to Desistance study (see Mulvey, 2004), following serious adolescent offenders for seven years – from mid-adolescence through early adulthood. The theoretical, policy, and research implications of the findings are discussed.