Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Dunaway, R. Gregory

Committee Member

Weiss, Harald

Committee Member

Rader, Nicole

Committee Member

Haynes, Stacy Hoskins

Committee Member

Xu, Xiahoe

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access



Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


College of Arts and Sciences


Department of Sociology


Robert Agnew’s (1992) General Strain Theory significantly revitalized traditional scholarship in the anomie/strain tradition by offering a general theory of crime; purported to account for both criminal and analogous behaviors. GST specifically extends anomie/strain theory by introducing new sources of strain (i.e. loss of positively valued stimuli, presentation of noxious stimuli) into the theoretical framework, as well as elucidating the causal pathways (including mediating and moderating effects) leading from the experience of strain to deviant coping mechanisms. An emerging trend within GST is the identification of previously untapped sources of strain (e.g. victimization, discrimination) that ostensibly have deviancegenerating properties. Concerning the latter trend, recent empirical iterations of GST have also introduced internal (e.g. self-esteem) and external conditioning factors (e.g. social control) that have been found to exert a mediating effect on the relationship between strain-generated negative emotions and deviant coping responses. Jang and Johnson-in a recent series of studies (2003, 2005)-offered a crucial extension to the General Strain Theory (GST) literature by finding that religiosity at least partially moderates the deviance-generating effects of strain-induced negative affect among a sample of African Americans. The current study offers a key extension to the Jang and Johnson thesis by offering the most comprehensive examination of the central tenets of their research to a nationally-representative, longitudinal sample of adolescents. Results from Waves I and II of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health reveal support for GST in general, and qualified support for the Jang/Johnson thesis in particular. Strain was found to be a significant, positive predictor of depression and anger. With regard to the fundamental hypothesis of the current research, partial support was garnered for the Jang and Johnson hypothesis. In particular, religiosity only offered direct protective effects when predicting drug use, and failed to condition the relationship of strain on deviance across any of the deviance measures. Consequently, religiosity failed to moderate the effects of strain on deviant coping strategies among the full sample, although significant conditioning effects were observed for female deviance. Consequently, these results largely attribute the Jang and Johnson findings to elevated levels of religiosity in their sample.



negative affect||deviance||religiosity||strain