Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Criminology and Criminal Justice

First Advisor

Jamie S. Martin, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Kathleen Hanrahan, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

John Lewis, Ph.D.

Fourth Advisor

Jennifer Roberts, Ph.D.


Though originally developed with early adolescents in mind, General Strain Theory has been successfully adapted to help examine late adolescent as well as adult criminality. Specifically in the time period known as "emerging adulthood", young adults experience many life changes that make them more susceptible to strain, anxiety and pressure. If appropriate coping mechanisms are not available to these young adults, criminal or delinquent behavior may result. The present study assessed General Strain Theory utilizing a sample of college freshmen at two universities in the United States. Variables such as distance from home and self-esteem were measured along with the strain variables to determine the nature of the relationship. The results of the present study indicate that students who attended the residential campus experienced more total strain than students who attended the commuter campus. In addition, students at the residential campus reported higher levels of substance use and alcohol use than students at the commuter campus. Additional analyses identified that students who identified as being Criminology/Criminal Justice majors drank significantly more alcohol than students with any other major, similar to previous research. Based on the current research, policies and programs concerning freshmen experience courses are recommended.