Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Criminal Justice


Criminal Justice

First Reader/Committee Chair

Norris, Alexis


Despite the recent developments in labeling theory, there are still a lot of gaps in research on this theory. To begin with, studies continue to attach too much attention to the effects of formal labeling to the neglect of informal labeling. Secondly, prior research has not paid full attention to a variety of mediating factors involved in the relationship between informal labeling, formal labeling and delinquency.

This study seeks to address these limitations by investigating the overall effects that formal and informal labeling has on young people while considering the differential impact of mediating variables. The data for the study comes from a posthoc survey of late adolescents between the ages of 18 and 24 in a public university and committee college in southern California.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, survey recruitment and administration involved the use of internet communications technology. The independent variable for the study was informal sanctions and contact with the system following a criterion delinquency at Time 1 which was during middle adolescence. The dependent variable was delinquency at time 2. Mediating variables included attachment to parents and peers, broken down into communication and closeness as well as self-perception. The study employed a path analysis to trace and describe the directed dependencies among these variables. The final sample size consisted of 132 late adolescents between the ages of 18 and 24.

Findings that showed support for the hypothesis in many ways. The path analysis results found that contact with the system at Time 1 was significant factor in predicting future delinquency at Time 2. Also, attachment to parents and peers meant reduced likelihood to reoffend in Time 2. This is in line with other studies that have been done on this topic. Although it showed no support for the hypothesis in stating that contact with the system at Time 1 impacts self-perception, it opens room for future research on this particular result.

One likely implication of the findings from this study is that delinquency in early adolescence leading to contact with the criminal justice system may lead to higher delinquency at later times.