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The Self-Report Method for Measuring Delinquency and Crime

NCJ Number
Date Published
January 2000
51 pages
This chapter reviews the origins of the self-report method of measuring involvement in delinquent and criminal behavior, the growth and refinement of this measurement technique since then, and its role in criminological research, especially longitudinal research on the etiology of delinquent and criminal behavior.
The self-report technique is one of three major ways of measuring delinquent and criminal behavior. The basic approach of the self-report method is to ask individuals whether they have engaged in delinquent or criminal behavior, and if so, how often they have done so. This chapter gives particular attention to the assessment of the reliability and validity of self-reported measures of delinquency. The authors also discuss specialized data collection methods, such as random response techniques and audio-assisted computer-based interviewing, which have the potential to increase the accuracy of responses. Overall, the authors conclude that the psychometric quality of the self-report method has increased considerably since its inception in the 1950's. Although there is much room for continued improvement, self-report data appear acceptably valid and reliable for most research purposes. 133 references

Date Published: January 1, 2000