Implicit in most theoretical accounts of sex differences in offending is the assumption that females are less likely than males to engage in crime-especially serious, violent crime-in part because of their comparatively higher levels of concern for others and stronger affiliative ties. Much research suggests that significant sex differences in both empathy and serious offending emerge in adolescence, with females displaying notably higher levels of empathy and males engaging in notably higher levels of serious offending. However, there has been little empirical work assessing the degree to which sex differences in empathy among adolescents can account for sex differences in offending. This research uses data from a sample of adolescents attending public high schools in Philadelphia (n = 425) and a sample of adolescents incarcerated in the California Youth Authority (CYA) (n = 232) to examine the relation between empathy and serious offending. Results suggest that empathy acts as a protective factor for both males and females but that there are subtle differences among males and females in the relation between empathy and offending.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pathology and Forensic Medicine
- Health(social science)