The Impact of Low Self-Control on Online Harassment: Interaction with Opportunity

Hyunin Baek, Michael Losavio, George Higgins


Developing Internet technology has increased the rates of youth online harassment. This study examines online harassment from adolescents with low self-control and the moderating effect of opportunity. The data using this study were collected by the Korea Institute of Criminology in 2009. The total sample size was 1,091. The results indicated that the low self-control, opportunity, and gender have a significant influence on online harassment. This study also showed a moderating effect of opportunity with low self-control on online harassment. However, there were different results according to gender; for males, low self-control and opportunity significantly impacted online harassment; for females, however, only low self-control significantly impacted online harassment. Furthermore, the interaction between low self-control and opportunity did not significantly influence online harassment either by males or by females. The results of multiple regression strongly supported Gottfredson and Hirschi’s (1990) theory, but other models divided by gender only partially supported interacting effects. Thus, their theory should be applied by genders.


Online Harassment; Low Self-Control; Opportunity; Interaction

Full Text:



Arneklev, B. J., Grasmick, H. G., Tittle, C. R., & Bursik, R. J. (1993). Self-control theory and imprudent behavior. Journal of Quantitative Criminology, 9, 225–247.

Buzzell, B., Foss, D., & Middleton, Z. (2006). Explaining use of online pornography: A test of self-control theory and opportunities for deviance. Journal of Criminal Justice and Popular Culture, 13(2), 96–116.

Choi, S. (2009). A study of cybercrime among juveniles. Seoul, Korea: Korean Institute of Criminology.

Cochran, J. K., Wood, P. B., Sellers, C. S., Wilkerson, W., & Chamlin, M. B. (1998). Academic dishonesty and low self-control: An empirical test of a general theory of crime. Deviant Behavior, 19, 227–255.

Desmond, S. A., Bruce, A. S., & Stacer, M. J. (2012). Self-control, opportunity, and substance use. Deviant Behavior, 33, 425–447.

Donner, C. M., & Jennings, W. G. (2014). Low self-control and police deviance: Applying Gottfredson and Hirschi’s general theory to officer misconduct. Police Quarterly, 17, 203–225.

Donner, C. M., Marcum, C. D., Jennings, W. G., Higgins, G. E., & Banfield, J. (2014). Low self-control and cybercrime: Exploring the utility of the general theory of crime beyond digital piracy. Computers in Human Behavior, 34, 165–172.

Eastin, M. S., Greenberg, B. S., & Hofschire, L. (2006). Parenting the Internet. Journal of Communication, 56(3), 486–504.

Finkelhor, D., Mitchell, K. J., & Wolak, J. (2000). Online victimization: A report on the nation’s youth. Alexandria, VA: National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Finn, J. (2004). A survey of online harassment as a University campus. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 19, 468–483.

Fletcher, A., Steinberg, L., & Williams-Wheeler, M. (2004). Parental influences on adolescent problem behavior: Revisiting Stattin and Kerr. Child Development, 75(3), 781–796.

Gibson, C., & Wright, J. (2001). Low self-control and coworker delinquency: A research note. Journal of Criminal Justice, 29, 483–492.

Giles, D. C. (2006). Constructing identities in cyberspace: The case of eating disorders. British Journal of Social Psychology, 45, 463–477.

Gottfredson, M., & Hirschi, T. (1990). A general theory of crime. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

Hay, C., & Forrest, W. (2008). Self-control theory and the concept of opportunity: The case for a more systematic union. Criminology, 46(4), 1039–1072.

Higgins, G. E. (2005). Can low self-control help understand the software piracy problem? Deviant Behavior: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 26, 1–24.

Higgins, G. E. (2006). Gender differences in software piracy: The mediating roles of self-control theory and social learning theory. Journal of Economic Crime Management, 4, 1–30.

Higgins, G. E., Fell, B. D., & Wilson, A. L. (2006). Digital piracy: Assessing the contributions of an integrated self-control theory and social learning theory using structural equation modeling. Criminal Justice Studies, 19, 3–22.

Higgins, G. E., Fell, B. D., & Wilson, A. L. (2007). Low self-control and social learning in understanding students’ intentions to pirate movies in the United States. Social Science Computer Review, 25, 339–357.

Higgins, G. E., & Ricketts, M. L. (2004). Motivation or opportunity: Which serves as the best mediator in self-control theory? Western Criminology Review, 7(2), 77–96.

Higgins, G. E., Wolfe, S. E., & Marcum, C. D. (2008). Digital piracy: An examination of three measurements of self-control. Deviant Behavior, 29, 440–460.

Hinduja, S. (2008). Deindividuation and Internet Software Piracy. Cyberpsychology & Behavior, 11(4), 391–398.

Holt, T. J., & Bossler, A. M. (2009). Examining the applicability of lifestyle-routine activities theory for cybercrime victimization. Deviant Behavior, 30, 1–25.

Holt, T. J., & Bossler, A. M., & May, D. C. (2010). Low self-control, deviant peer associations, and juvenile cyber deviance. American Journal of Criminal Justice, 37(3), 378–395.

Joinson, A. N. (2005). Deviance and the internet: New challenges for social science. Social Science Computer Review, 23(1), 5–7.

Jones, L. M., Mitchell, K. J., & Finkelhor, D. (2013). Online harassment in context: Trends from three youth internet safety surveys (2000, 2005, 2010). Psychology of Violence, 3, 53–69.

Khunrana, A., Bleakley, A., Jordan, A. B., & Romer, D. (2015). The protective effects of parental monitoring and internet restriction on adolescents’ risk of online harassment. Journal of Youth Adolescence, 44, 1039–1047.

Kim, J. E., & Kim, J. H. (2014). Software piracy among Korean adolescents: Lessons from panel data. Deviant Behavior, 36, 705–724.

LaGrange, T. C., & Silverman, R. A. (1999). Low self-control and opportunity: Testing the general theory of crime as an explanation for gender differences in delinquency. Criminology, 37, 41–72.

Longshore, D., & Turner, S. (1998). Self-control and criminal opportunity: Cross-sectional test of the general theory of crime. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 25, 81–98.

Longshore, D., Turner, S., & Stein, J. (1996). Self-control in a criminal sample: an examination of construct validity. Criminology, 34, 209–228.

Malin, J., & Fowers, B. J. (2009). Adolescent self-control and music and movie piracy. Computers in Human Behavior, 25, 718–722.

Moon, B., & Alarid, L. F. (2015). School bullying, low self-control, and opportunity. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 30, 839–856.

Moon, B., Hwang, H., & McCluskey, J. D. (2011). Causes of school bullying: Empirical test of a general theory of crime, differential association theory, and general strain theory. Crime & Delinquency, 57, 849–877.

Moon, B., McCluskey, J. D., & McCluskey, C. P. (2010). A general theory of crime and computer crime: An empirical test. Journal of Criminal Justice, 38, 767–772.

Moon, B., McCluskey, J. D., McCluskey, C. P., & Lee, S. (2012). Gender, general theory of crime and computer crime: An empirical test. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, 57, 460–478.

Morris, R. G., & Higgins, G. E. (2009). Neutralizing potential and self-reported digital piracy: A multi-theoretical exploration among college undergraduates. Criminal Justice Review, 34, 173–195.

O’Brien, R. M. (2007). A caution regarding rules of thumb for variance inflation factors. Quality & Quantity, 41(5), 673-690. doi: 10.1007/s11135-006-9018-6

Piquero, A., & Tibbetts, S. (1999). The impact of pre/perinatal disturbances and disadvantaged familial environment in predicting criminal offending. Studies on Crime and Crime Prevention, 8, 52–70.

Power, R. (2000). 2000 CSI/FBI computer crime and security survey. Computer Security Issues and Trends, 6, 1–15.

Pratt, T. C., & Cullen, F. (2000). The empirical status of Gottfredson and Hirschi's general theory of crime: A meta-analysis. Criminology, 38, 931–964.

Raine, A., Brennan, P., & Mednick, S. (1994). Birth complications combined with early maternal rejection at age 1year predispose to violent crime at age 18 years. Archives of General Psychiatry, 51, 984–988.

Rogers, M., Smoak, N., & Liu, J. (2006). Self-reported deviant computer behavior. Deviant Behavior, 27, 245–268.

Seipel, C., & Eifler, S. (2010). Opportunities, rational choice, and self-control: On the interaction of person and situation in a general theory of crime. Crime & Delinquency, 56, 167–197.

Smith, T. R. (2004). Low self-control, staged opportunity, and subsequent fraudulent behavior. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 31, 542–563.

Tittle, C. R., Ward, D., & Grasmick, H. (2003). Self-control and crime/deviance: Cognitive vs. behavioral measures. Journal of Quantitative Criminology, 19, 333–365.

Van Geel, M., Vedder, P., & Tanilon, J. (2014). Relationship between peer victimization, cyberbullying, and suicide in children and adolescents: A meta-analysis. JAMA Pediatrics, 168, 435–442.

Wolak, J., Mitchell, K., & Finkelhor, D. (2006). Online Victimization of Youth: 5 Years Later. Alexandria, VA: National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.

Ybarra, M. L., Diener-West, M., & Leaf, P. J. (2007). Examining the overlap in Internet harassment and school bullying: Implications for school intervention. Journal of Adolescent Health, 41, 42–50.

Ybarra, M. L. (2004). Linkages between depressive symptomatology and internet harassment among young regular internet users. CyberPsychology & Behavior, 7, 247–257.

Ybarra, M. L., & Mitchell, K. J. (2004). Youth engaging in online harassment: Associations with caregiver–child relationships, Internet use, and personal characteristics. Journal of Adolescence, 27, 319–336.

Ybarra, M. L., Mitchell, K., Wolak, J., & Finkelhor, D. (2006). Examining characteristics and associated distress related to Internet harassment: findings from the Second Youth Internet Safety Survey. Pediatrics, 118, 1169–1177.

Ziyanak, S. (2014). Examining the impact of technology in the formation of deviance and social control. International Journal of Humanities and Social Science, 4, 207–210.


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2017 Journal of Digital Forensics, Security and Law

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

(c) 2006-2015 Association of Digital Forensics, Security and Law