Date of Degree

5-2015

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Program

Psychology

Advisor(s)

C. Gabrielle Salfati

Subject Categories

Criminology | Criminology and Criminal Justice | Psychology

Keywords

Behavioral consistency; Behavioral linkage analysis; Criminal behavior; Profiling; Sexual crime; Violent serial crime

Abstract

While investigative use of behavioral evidence to help link and solve serial offenses has been in use for centuries, the empirical and theoretical grounds for whether and how to use this evidence effectively has begun to emerge only in recent years. In order for behavioral crime linking to be validated, two base assumptions must be met: individual differentiation (i.e., that offenses committed by one offender will be distinctly different from those committed by another offender) and consistency (i.e., that a degree of similarity will be apparent across crimes committed by the same offender). The present study empirically tested (a) the potential for effectively differentiating between rape offense crime scenes using quantitative and qualitative distinctions within the behavioral dimensions of control, violence, and sexual activity, and (b) the extent to which redefining behavioral consistency more broadly to include dynamic trajectories of behavioral change may be more effective than limiting this definition to behavioral stability. Results of the individual differentiation analysis confirmed that sexual offenses can be successfully differentiated based on the specific degree and subtype of these behavioral dimensions present in each crime scene. In the subsequent analysis of consistency and behavioral trajectories within and across these dimensions, it was determined that while none of the offenders exhibited complete consistency across behavioral dimensions, a subsample of offenders remained fully consistent in at least one. Furthermore, of those who were not consistent, the vast majority followed an identifiable trajectory of change. Findings are discussed in the context of psychological theories of behavioral consistency as well as practical aspects of advancing the utility of behavioral linkage.

 
 

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