ABSTRACT. Morality as a key construct for the explanation of criminal behavior has a long tradition in criminology, but research in moral development in childhood and adolescence is mainly based in psychological explanations. This article gives a theoretical and empirical outline of the development of morality, especially for the explanation of crime involvement in context of Situational Action Theory (SAT; e.g. Wikström et al., 2012). SAT, introduced by Wikström and colleagues, is a promising new developed general theory of crime. SAT combines individual and contextual constructs into an integrative explanatory framework. With crime propensity mainly based on moral judgment, in its basic assumption, SAT proposes that the interaction of propensity and exposure determines delinquency. The probability of a criminal act to be committed depends on the criminal tendency (propensity) of a person in interaction with their exposure to criminogenic settings (exposure). To analyze the development of moral judgment during adolescence, data from the German panel study “Chances and Risks in the Life Course” will be used. The study, embedded within the project “The Development of Deviant and Delinquent Behavior over the Life Course and its Significance for Processes of Social Inequality” of the CRC 882 “From Heterogeneities to Inequalities” uses a cohort sequential design and was first conducted in 2012, with yearly follow up measurements. The sample consists of three interviewing time points of two age cohorts in the German cities of Dortmund (North-Rhine Westphalia) and Nuremberg (Bavaria). Moral development and its influences will be examined by applying latent growth curve models. The strongest effect on the development of moral judgment appears to be the moral emotion shame with decreasing influences of family and increasing influences of peers during adolescence. pp. 70–97

Keywords: moral development; Situational Action Theory; juvenile delinquency

How to cite: Schepers, Debbie (2017), “Moral Development in Adolescence: A Test of Change and Influences in Context of SAT with German Panel Data,” Contemporary Readings in Law and Social Justice 9(1): 70–97.

Received 30 May 2016 • Received in revised form 6 July 2016
Accepted 6 July 2016 • Available online 1 August 2016


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Faculty of Sociology,
Bielefeld University

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