Penn State Penn State: College of the Liberal Arts
Penn State Penn State: College of the Liberal Arts

Thomas A. Loughran

Thomas A. Loughran
Professor of Sociology, Criminology, and Public Policy
Director, Graduate Program in Criminology

Curriculum Vitae

Thomas  A. Loughran
(814) 865-8668
1011 Oswald Tower University Park , PA 16802
Mailroom: 430 Burrowes Building


Ph.D, Carnegie Mellon University

Professional Bio

Research Interests

My research and teaching interests include offender decision-making, individuals’ responses to criminal sanctions in terms of multiple outcomes, and methods to infer treatment effects from nonexperimental data. I am also interested in the consequences of these issues for public policy.

Research Projects 

My research is focused on understanding more about how individuals make decisions about offending. There are several unique but related threads which contribute theoretically to this larger theme. One thread deals with individuals’ response to sanctions, specifically how various forms of punishment, or lack thereof, affect future engagement in criminality. A second area is mainly concerned with offenders’ perceptions of risks, costs and rewards associated with different types of offending behaviors. Finally, a third area of interest deal with the way incentives from the illegal activity affect decisions to participate in illegal activities, and how offenders make decisions when having to trade off costs and benefits realized at different points in time.

I am currently working on a project funded by the National Institute of Justice in which we are conducting a prospective, comparative study of decision-making processes and competencies of a sample of men and women who were incarcerated for a felony offense with a comparison group of non-incarcerated men and women from the general community. 

Research Interests by Concentration


criminology, offender decision-making, public policy