Resistance to peer influence and crime desistance in emerging adulthood: A moderated mediation analysis.

The current study sought to determine whether resistance to peer pressure contributes to crime desistance by inhibiting proactive criminal thinking (moral disengagement), a social–cognitive variable that has been found to mediate the peer influence effect. Using data from the Pathways to Desistance study (N = 1,354), resistance to peer influence and peer delinquency were tested as predictors of subsequent offending when participants were 18, 19, and 20 years of age. Whereas peer delinquency (PD) facilitated future offending by increasing moral disengagement (MD), peer resistance inhibited future offending by decreasing moral disengagement. There were no significant differences between the two indirect effects. although only PD achieved a direct effect on future offending above and beyond the indirect effect of the PD → MD → future offending pathway. Peer resistance and PD were found to interact positively with each other in support of a moderated mediation hypothesis in which the inhibitory effects of resistance on moral disengagement were strongest at lower levels of PD. This indicates that juvenile offenders have the greatest chance of desisting from crime when they have fewer delinquent friends and stronger peer resistance skills, for even nondelinquent friends can provide occasional opportunities for crime. These results suggest that peer resistance training may be an effective adjunct in the treatment of juvenile offenders. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2018 APA, all rights reserved)