Field Experiments in Criminology - Innovative or Impossible?

Journal article

Publication Details

Author(s): Kroher M, Wolbring T
Journal: Monatsschrift für Kriminologie und Strafrechtsreform
Publication year: 2018
Volume: 101
Journal issue: 3-4
Pages range: 297-321
ISSN: 0026-9301


Besides a description of the prevalence of different offense types, large parts of criminology are concerned with identifying determinants of deviant and criminal behavior. Thereby many criminological approaches assume that individuals act rationally and react systematically to incentives. As any experience science, criminology aims to uncover causal influences and to estimate their effects based on empirical data - frequently driven by the aspiration to derive practical implications about preventive measures, interventions, and laws. At the same time, it is often difficult in practice to disentangle the influences of interest from other interfering factors. In this paper, we argue that field experiments are often particularly well suited for these endeavors of causal inference. They usually allow drawing rather save conclusions about causal relationships, while at the same time ensuring a high degree of naturalness and enabling researchers to systematically vary central explanatory variables such as costs of action. However, the approach has also clear limits, which is why experimental criminology still partly faces skepticism in the scientific community. After a general introduction into experimental research designs we will illustrate the advantages and problems of field experiments in criminology for the case of the broken windows theory. We conclude with a short summary and some recommendations on future directions for field experimental research in criminology.

FAU Authors / FAU Editors

Wolbring, Tobias Prof. Dr.
Lehrstuhl für Empirische Wirtschaftssoziologie

External institutions with authors

Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Universität Hannover

How to cite

Kroher, M., & Wolbring, T. (2018). Field Experiments in Criminology - Innovative or Impossible? Monatsschrift für Kriminologie und Strafrechtsreform, 101(3-4), 297-321.

Kroher, Martina, and Tobias Wolbring. "Field Experiments in Criminology - Innovative or Impossible?" Monatsschrift für Kriminologie und Strafrechtsreform 101.3-4 (2018): 297-321.


Last updated on 2019-20-03 at 00:08