Disillusionment and Change: A Cognitive-Emotional Theory of Gang Exit

Bryan F. Bubolz, Pete Simi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Exit from street gangs has received increased attention in recent years; however, a number of important questions regarding the process of leaving remain unanswered. Relying on identity theory, we present a cognitive-emotional theory of gang exit that emphasizes functional dimensions of anger in terms of motivating individuals to pursue identity change related to gang membership. Specifically, anger provides gang members with an opportunity to identify the gang as a major source of their problems. According to identity theory, anger is generated when there is an inability to meet an identity standard. This article argues that an inability to meet identity goals produces disillusionment and anger, which reduces the relative importance of the gang identity and facilitates exit from gangs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)330-345
Number of pages16
JournalDeviant Behavior
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 3 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Law


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