General Strain Theory and Deviant Behavior

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General Strain Theory and Deviant Behavior This paper explores General Strain Theory and reviews the empirical academic research testing General Strain Theory. The assumptions of the theory and how it explains the causes of criminal behavior will be discussed. This will be followed by the review of academic research and what findings have been made from the research that supports General Strain Theory. The last section will explore the possible policies that could be implemented to reduce criminality if the assumptions of General Strain Theory are correct. General Strain Theory was formulated by Robert Agnew, and first published in 1992. According to General Strain Theory individuals engage in crime because of strains or stressors which produce anger and anxiety (Agnew, 1992). Crimes become the outlet that the individual uses to cope with or remedy the strains or stressors. Agnew states that there are three different types of deviance producing strains. They are failure to achieve positively valued goals, removal of positively valued stimuli, and confrontation with negative stimuli (Agnew, 1992). The major assumptions of General Strain Theory place emphasis on these types of strains and stressors and how they cause deviant behavior. The connection between the strains and deviant behavior are the negative emotions that are produced by the strains such as anger and anxiety. The causes of deviant behavior can be linked to those emotions and the personal resources available to handle the emotions. This helps to define why some individuals with similar strains commit crimes and why others chose legal manners in which they deal with their strains and emotions. General Strain Theory can help to explain any act that is considered deviant by society, and carries with it some sort of punishment, either formally or informally (Agnew, 2006). Failure to achieve
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