Delinquent Peer Influence on Childhood Delinquency: The Moderating Effect of Impulsivity

  • Michael L. Vitulano
  • Paula J. Fite
  • Jamie L. Rathert


A link between delinquent peer affiliations and childhood delinquency has been consistently found in the literature. However, little to no research has examined how the characteristics of an individual may impact this association. Impulsivity may be an important individual characteristic to consider, as impulsivity is associated with childhood delinquency. Accordingly, the current study examined the potential moderating effect of impulsivity on the association between peer delinquency and child delinquency in a community sample of 89 children ranging from 9 to 12 years of age (mean = 10.4 ± 1.1 yrs). Findings suggest that at low levels of impulsivity peer delinquency and child delinquency were positively associated; however at high levels of impulsivity peer delinquency and child delinquency were not statistically related. These findings may suggest that children who exhibit low levels of impulsivity are particularly vulnerable to delinquent peer influences. Implications for findings are discussed.


Impulsivity Child delinquency Peer delinquency 



We would like to thank members of the Child Behavior Lab for their assistance with data collection. Additionally, we would like to thank the families who participated in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael L. Vitulano
    • 1
  • Paula J. Fite
    • 1
  • Jamie L. Rathert
    • 1
  1. 1.Psychology DepartmentThe University of TennesseeKnoxville37996USA

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