Derek Kreager

Derek Kreager
Liberal Arts Professor of Sociology and Criminology
Associate Head, Department of Sociology and Criminology
SSRI Co-Funded Faculty

Curriculum Vitae


Ph.D. Sociology, University of Washington

Professional Bio

Research Interests

Life Course, Crime and Delinquency, Incarceration, Romantic and Peer Networks

Research Interests

My research focuses on social networks and criminal/delinquent behavior. Using network theories and methods, I study how friendships and romantic relationships are associated with risk-taking and crime among adolescent students and adult prisoners. I also look at how social relationships change over time and their impacts on criminal trajectories and desistance.

Research Projects

I have ongoing projects in two principal research areas. First, I have several projects focused on the experiences of incarceration and community re-entry. Funded by the National Science Foundation, National Institute of Justice, and National Institutes of Health (NIAAA), these studies examine topics such as (1) inmate social networks, (2) family visitation, (3) community social integration, and (4) prison substance use treatment. Second, I collaborate as part of the PROSPER Peers (PI: Osgood, funded by NIH) team to examine adolescent social networks and health-risk behaviors. In particular, my research here focuses on adolescent romantic relationships and sexual development.

Awards and Achievements

  • Ruth Shonle Cavan Young Scholars Award, American Society of Criminology.
  • Donald D. Harrington Faculty Fellowship, University of Texas Sociology Department and Population Research Center.
  • Roy C. Buck Award for Outstanding Article by a PSU Junior Faculty Member: “Motherhood and Criminal Desistance in Disadvantaged Neighborhoods” (with Matsueda and Erosheva).
  • William T. Grant Foundation Scholars Award: “Peer Networks and Adolescent Sexual Development.”
  • Outstanding Article Award for 2006, American Society of Criminology: “Deterring Delinquents: A Rational Choice Model of Theft and Violence” (with Matsueda and Huizinga).
  • Second Prize, American Sociological Association Student Paper Award in the area of Crime, Law, and Deviance: “Unnecessary Roughness? School Sports, Peer Networks, and Male Adolescent Violence.”
  • First Prize, American Society of Criminology Gene Carte Student Paper Award: “Strangers in the Halls: Isolation and Delinquency in School Networks.”
  • Herbert L. Costner Award for Distinguished UW Graduate Paper: “Strangers in the Halls: Isolation and Delinquency in School Networks.”

Selected Publications

  • Whichard, Corey, Sara Wakefield, and Derek A. Kreager. 2020. “Collecting Social Network Data in Prison and During Re-Entry: A Field Guide.” Pp. 81-99 in Moving Beyond Recidivism: Expanding Approaches to Research on Prisoner Reentry and Reintegration, edited by A. Leverentz, E. Chen, and J. Christian. New York: NYU Press.
  • Kreager, Derek A., David R. Schaefer, Kim Davidson, Gary Zajac, Dana L. Haynie, and George De Leon. 2019. “Evaluating Peer-Influence Processes in a Prison-Based Therapeutic Community: A Dynamic Network Approach.” Drug and Alcohol Dependence 203:13-18.
  • Haynie, Dana L., Corey Whichard, Derek A. Kreager, David R. Schaefer, and Sara Wakefield. 2018. “Social Networks and Health in a Prison Unit.” Journal of Health and Social Behavior 59(3):318-34.
  • Kreager, Derek A. and Candace Kruttschnitt. 2018. "Inmate Society in the Era of Mass Incarceration." Annual Review of Criminology 1:261-283.
  • Kreager, Derek A., Jacob T.N. Young, Dana L. Haynie, Martin Bouchard, David R. Schaefer, and Gary Zajac. 2017. "Where 'Old Heads' Prevail: Inmate Hierarchy in a Men's Prison Unit." American Sociological Review 82(4):685-718.
  • Kreager, Derek A., Jeremy Staff, Robin Gauthier, Eva S. Lefkowitz, and Mark E. Feinberg. 2016. “The Double Standard at Sexual Debut: Gender, Sexual Behavior and Early Adolescent Peer Acceptance.” Sex Roles 75(7):377-392.
  • Kreager, Derek A., David R. Schaefer, Martin Bouchard, Dana L. Haynie, Sara Wakefield, Jacob Young, and Gary Zajac. 2016. “Toward a Criminology of Inmate Networks.” Justice Quarterly 33(6):1000-1028.
  • Kreager, Derek A., Daniel Ragan, Holly Nguyen, and Jeremy Staff. 2016. “When Onset Meets Desistance: Cognitive Transformation and Adolescent Delinquency Experimentation.” Journal of Developmental and Life Course Criminology 2:135-161.
  • Kreager, Derek A., Shannon E. Cavanagh, John Yen, and Mo Yu. 2014. “’Where Have All the Good Men Gone?' Gendered Interactions in Online Dating.” Journal of Marriage and Family 76(2):387-410.
  • Vasilenko, Sarah A., Derek A. Kreager and Eva S. Lefkowitz. Forthcoming. “Gender, contraceptive attitudes, and condom use in adolescent romantic relationships: A dyadic approach.” Journal of Research on Adolescence.
  • Kreager, Derek A., Richard Felson, Cody Warner, and Marin R. Wenger. 2013. “Women’s Education, Marital Violence, and Divorce: A Social Exchange Perspective.” Journal of Marriage and Family 75:565-581.
  • Kreager, Derek A., Dana L. Haynie, and Suellen Hopfer. 2013. “Dating and Substance Use in Adolescent Peer Networks: A Replication and Extension.” Addiction 108(3):638-647.
  • Telesca, Donatello, Elena A. Erosheva, Derek A. Kreager, and Ross L. Matsueda. 2012. “Modeling Criminal Careers as Departures from a Unimodal Population Age-Crime Curve: The Case of Marijuana Use.” Journal of the American Statistical Association. 107(500):1427-1440.
  • Kreager, Derek A., Christopher Lyons, and Zachary Hays. 2011. “Urban Revitalization and Seattle Crime, 1982-2000.” Social Problems 58(4):615-639.
  • Kreager, Derek A. and Dana L. Haynie. 2011. “Dangerous Liaisons? Dating and Drinking Diffusion in Adolescent Peer Networks.” American Sociological Review 76(5):737-763.
  • Kreager, Derek A., Kelly Rulison, and James Moody. 2011. “Delinquency and the Structure of Adolescent Peer Groups.” Criminology 49(1):95-127.
  • Koon-Magnin, Sarah, Derek A. Kreager, and R. Barry Ruback. 2010. “Partner Age-Span, Educational Contexts, and Adolescent Female Sexual Activity.” Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health 42(3):206-13.
  • Kreager, Derek A., Ross L. Matsueda, and Elena Erosheva. 2010. “Motherhood and Criminal Desistance in Disadvantaged Neighborhoods.” Criminology 48(1):901-937.
  • Kreager, Derek A. and Jeremy Staff. 2009. “The Sexual Double Standard and Adolescent Peer Acceptance.” Social Psychology Quarterly 72(2):143-164.
  • Kreager, Derek A. 2008. “Guarded Borders: Interracial Teen Dating and Difficulties with Peers.” Social Forces 87(2):887-910.
  • Staff, Jeremy, and Derek A. Kreager. 2008. “Too Cool for School? Peer Status and High School Dropout.” Social Forces 87(1):445-471.
  • Kreager, Derek A. 2007. “Unnecessary Roughness? School Sports, Peer Networks, and Male Adolescent Violence.” American Sociological Review 72(5):705-724.
  • Kreager, Derek A. 2007. “When it’s Good to be ‘Bad’: Violence and Adolescent Peer Acceptance.” Criminology 45(4):601-631.
  • Matsueda, Ross L., Derek A. Kreager and David Huizinga. 2006. “Deterring Delinquents: A Rational Choice Model of Theft and Violence.” American Sociological Review 71(1):95-122.
  • Kreager, Derek A. 2004. “Strangers in the Halls: Isolation and Delinquency in School Networks.” Social Forces 83(1):351-390.

Research Interests by Concentration


Incarceration and community re-entry, adolescent social networks and health-risk behaviors

Family and Relationships

Life Course, Crime and Delinquency, Incarceration, Romantic and Peer Networks

Health and Life Course

Life Course, Crime and Delinquency, Incarceration, Romantic and Peer Networks

Social Institutions and Culture

Life Course, Crime and Delinquency, Incarceration, Romantic and Peer Networks
Derek Kreager
(814) 867-0217
913 Oswald Tower University Park , PA 16802
Mailroom: 203 Oswald Tower