Ernst, André ORCID: 0000-0002-6258-748X (2021). Investigating the action-generating mechanisms of rule-breaking: Overcoming methodological challenges in empirical tests of Situational Action Theory and the Code of the Street. PhD thesis, Universität zu Köln.

Ernst_2021_Investigating the action-generating mechanism of rule-breaking.pdf - Published Version
Bereitstellung unter der CC-Lizenz: Creative Commons Attribution No Derivatives.

Download (1MB) | Preview


Rule-breaking is an actor’s reaction to the behavioural setting to which they are exposed. Understanding this interplay between a person and their behavioural setting is significant for developing crime prevention measures and understanding crime as a social phenomenon. Action-theories explain rule-breaking via the interplay between actors’ criminal propensity and behavioural settings’ criminogeneity. They address what would have happened if a person’s criminal propensity and a setting’s criminogeneity had been different? Previous tests of action-theories on observational data failed to control for actors exposure to different kinds of behavioural settings. I provide a more rigorous test by using fixed-effect estimation models and strategically using the school setting of the Friendship and Violence in Adolescent data. The research approach is applied to hypotheses derived from Andersen’s Code of the Street and Wikström’s Situational Action Theory (SAT). In line with the Code of the Street, study 1 finds that students with a strong street code internalization adapt their violent behaviour to the behavioural setting’s status ascription to violent offenders. With exposure to increasing status ascription to violent offenders, these students become more violent. This connection was not found for students with a low street code internalization. Following SAT, study 2 shows that an increase in crime propensity increases the likelihood of violent offending, as does an increase in criminogenic exposure. Students with the lowest crime propensity are unaffected by changes in criminogenic exposure and are unlikely to offend. As crime propensity increases, students become more likely to offend by following the descriptive norm. Study 3 examines the connection between criminal propensity and criminogenic exposure in more detail on students’ cheating. If students morality is in line with the moral norms of the setting, students follow their morality. Students with a deviant morality cheat, students with a law-abiding morality, do not cheat. If students morality and the moral norms of the setting diverge, cheating depends on the levels of self-control for students with a law-abiding morality. All-in-all, the results indicate that exposure matters net of the selection of kinds-of-people into kinds-of settings.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD thesis)
CreatorsEmailORCIDORCID Put Code
Ernst, André
URN: urn:nbn:de:hbz:38-610547
Date: 2021
Language: English
Faculty: Faculty of Management, Economy and Social Sciences
Divisions: Faculty of Management, Economics and Social Sciences > Social Sciences > Sociology and Social Psychology > Department of Scociology
Subjects: Social sciences
Uncontrolled Keywords:
Code of the StreetEnglish
Situational Action TheoryEnglish
School cheatingEnglish
Action-generating mechanismEnglish
Date of oral exam: 14 December 2021
NameAcademic Title
Kroneberg, ClemensProf. Dr.
Hank, KarstenProf. Dr.
Refereed: Yes


Downloads per month over past year


Actions (login required)

View Item View Item