Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Dennis M. Giever, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

John A. Lewis, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

David L. Myers, Ph.D.

Fourth Advisor

Jennifer J. Roberts, Ph.D.


The study was an effort to gain insight into the relationship between personality factors and offending. The personality factors included in the study were Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism (OCEAN). It was hypothesized that OCEAN would significantly impact offending and co-offending among an adult sample of college students. Also, an effort was made to show that OCEAN could significantly differentiate between individuals who did not offend at all, individuals who offended alone, and individuals who participated in co-offending. Personality was measured using the Big Five Inventory, and offending was measured using an adaptation of Elliott and Ageton's (1980) self reported delinquency scale. Various types of offending were examined. An online survey of 305 college students provided the data for analysis. To test the hypotheses, a variety of statistical methods including OLS regression, logistic regression, ANOVA and multinomial logistic regression we applied. There was some support for the relationship between certain personality factors (conscientiousness and agreeableness) and offending. Agreeableness was the only factor shown to be significantly associated with co-offending. Agreeableness and conscientiousness were significantly able to differentiate between non offenders and co-offenders. The results contribute to the body of knowledge by focusing on internal explanations for offending, and by studying a wide variety of offenses rather than one specific type of offending. The most unique aspect of this study was the comparison of several different types of offenders (non offenders, solo offenders, and co-offenders). Future research should more closely examine the individual level explanations behind co-offending behaviors as well as including more mainstream criminological theories in the analysis.