Intelligence and Delinquency

There are a number of questions and concerns raised in the reading on intelligence and delinquency. The first question regards the nature of study findings. The main concern here is whether theorists have been keen on the results obtained from the research. Hirschi and Hindelang (1977) questions whether theory opposes research and whether research disregards theory. For instance in the period when research shows a strong link between IQ and delinquency, theory disregarded these assertions. On the other hand, theories drawn from the period that IQ was disregarded show a weak correlation between IQ and delinquency, but one that can hardly be ignored. In the early 20th century, most researchers supported the hypothesis about the strong correlation between IQ and delinquency (Vold, Bernard, Snipes, & Gerould, 2016). However towards the mid of the 20th century, this hypothesis lost ground, only to gain support again from the 1970s.

Another key question raised in the readings concern the association between IQ and class, which could have a significant impact on research findings. It is worth noting that class and culture may have a significant impact on the IQ level of an individual. This could in turn be interpreted to mean that the IQ differences between delinquents are purely the result of class differences. A number of studies detail the link between class and IQ. For instance, Woodward (1995) asserts that there is a significant difference in IQ between children of individuals engaged in formal practice and those involved in manual work (as cited in Hirschi & Hindelang, 1977). Almost similar to this assertion is that children who come from large families have relatively low IQ scores compared to those from smaller families.

Another set of questions relate to measurements of IQ. Researchers are yet to reach a consensus about the ultimate or unbiased IQ test. There are concerns that IQ tests given to delinquents could be biased because of cultural and class factors (Hirschi & Hindelang, 1977). Some authors argue that intelligence tests focus on test knowledge rather than examining innate intelligence. This group maintains that IQ tests are highly influenced by the socioeconomic status of the individual concerned, rather than giving a true reflection of the innate intelligence, that one has. Another question raised in the readings concern the cultural influence in IQ tests, which may significantly contribute to biased results. Existing literature indicates that IQ tests show biasness towards minority and low income groups. For instance, some questions asked during IQ tests favor individuals from rich backgrounds (Hirschi & Hindelang, 1977). Considering that, IQ tests discriminate against individuals from poor backgrounds and coincidentally, these groups have high delinquency rates, then it is logical that this hypothesis is true.

Questions emerge concerning the methods used in measuring delinquency. Some past studies have largely focused on the self-report methods of obtaining data about delinquency (Hirschi & Hindelang, 1977). The initial findings on IQ rely on the self-reporting method of collecting data. This raises major concerns about the data used to measure the link between IQ and delinquency. For instance, concerns have been raised about imperfections in measurement that may arise when an intelligent delinquent intentionally avoids detection. There also questions concerning the stability of IQ test scores. Researchers agree that a number of social factors can influence IQ scores. As such, IQ scores may not withstand the test of time. However, a number of studies have disputed this claim, showing that there is a high correlation in IQ test scores measured during a particular period at those taken later or after several years.


Hirschi, T., & Hindelang, M. J. (1977). Intelligence and delinquency: a revisionist review.            American Sociological Review, 42(4):571-587.

Vold, G. B., Bernard, T. J., Snipes, J. B., & Gerould, A. L. (2016). Vold’s theoretical        criminology. New York, NY: Oxford University Press


Life-Course-Persistent Offenders Theory