Environmental predictability influences the relationship between virtues and antisocial/delinquent behavior

Víctor Corral-Verdugo*, Anais Ortiz-Valdez, Martha Frías-Armenta, César Tapia-Fonllem, Blanca Fraijo-Sing

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Despite the notion that characterizes criminals as lacking virtues or character strengths, evidence shows that people who engage in antisocial and delinquent behavior are not dissimilar in possessing character strengths as compared to the general population. Character strengths may be used to either do ‘good’ or ‘wrong’; so that the question is, what situation does direct this use to either choice? This study hypothesized environmental predictability may influence a person using their character strengths to inhibit antisocial or delinquent behavior. Two samples were examined, one consisting of individuals convicted of a criminal offense, and the other composed of non-convicted participants. Individuals responded to a series of instruments targeting virtues and character strengths, antisocial and delinquent behaviors, and environmental predictability in their environment –inferred from life-history strategy. In both groups, virtues were negatively and significantly associated with antisocial/delinquent behavior. A further test of the moderating and mediating influence of environmental predictability showed that this environmental dimension modified the aforementioned relationship, decreasing the inhibitory influence of virtues on antisociality. This means that, in predictable contexts, possessing (or lacking) character strengths is not important to inhibiting antisocial behaviors; however, in unpredictable environments virtues are useful to prevent antisociality and delinquent behavior.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)148-166
Number of pages19
JournalPsychology, Crime and Law
Issue number2
StatePublished - 7 Feb 2020

Bibliographical note

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© 2019, © 2019 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Environmental predictability
  • delinquent behavior
  • mediation
  • moderation
  • virtues


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