Sex differences in shoplifting: results from a national sample

J Nerv Ment Dis. 2012 Aug;200(8):728-33. doi: 10.1097/NMD.0b013e3182613fbb.


This study presents the sex differences in sociodemographics and in psychiatric correlates of shoplifting in the United States. Data were drawn from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions, a nationally representative sample of US adults. Shoplifting was associated with numerous psychiatric and addictive disorders with significant sex effects. Women with a lifetime history of shoplifting were significantly more likely than men with a lifetime history of shoplifting to have a lifetime diagnosis of alcohol abuse or dependence, nicotine dependence, cannabis, amphetamine, cocaine, or inhalant use disorder, and antisocial personality disorder, whereas men were significantly more likely than women to have a lifetime diagnosis of generalized anxiety disorder. The findings suggest that shoplifting could be better understood as a behavioral manifestation of a broader impaired impulse control spectrum in women. Shoplifting could be more a part of the externalizing spectrum disorders rather than the internalizing spectrum disorders in women compared to men.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Comorbidity
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology
  • Mental Disorders / psychology
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Sex Factors
  • Theft / psychology*
  • Theft / statistics & numerical data
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Young Adult