Hot or Cool Processing? Adolescent Decision-Making and Delinquency

Anastasiia Timmer, Olena Antonaccio, Michael T. French

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Adolescence is a vulnerable period of individual development when decision-making is easily compromised, and criminal involvement reaches its peak. We draw on and extend novel decision-making perspectives and use the first two waves of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (N = 13,399) to analyze whether factors representing adverse physical conditions, negative mental states, and stressful social circumstances condition the effect of thoughtfully reflective decision-making (TRDM) on adolescent delinquent behavior. We find that experiencing various “hot triggers” such as sleep problems, depression, and straining conditions significantly reduces the crime-preventive impact of TRDM (an example of cool processing) among adolescents. We outline potential avenues for further theoretical development of integrated frameworks of decision-making and crime and discuss policy implications aimed at ways to deal with the adverse social, emotional, and physical triggers and foster thoughtful decision-making skills among adolescents.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)961-994
Number of pages34
JournalJustice Quarterly
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2021


  • TRDM
  • adolescence
  • crime and delinquency
  • decision-making
  • hot/cool processing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Law


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