Theorizing that each dyad partner’s self-control independently influences the likelihood of violence and that low self-control will express itself in provocative behaviour, the current study used two waves from the Interpersonal and Conflict Resolution survey, collecting measures from each member of 443 couples to create dyads and analyse the independent contributions of the specified variables for both would-be offenders and the potential target.
We found that a potential target with low self-control was more likely to be attacked by the actor, irrespective of the actor’s self-control. This effect was explained by a tendency of both partners to engage in verbally provocative behaviour. These results are supportive of self-control theory’s predictions concerning the importance of target decision-making and indicate that other criminological theories can profit from considering the target’s role in violent crime causation.
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