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Title: Hero or villain? : criminals' experience of crime
Author: Ioannou, Maria
Awarding Body: University of Liverpool
Current Institution: University of Liverpool
Date of Award: 2006
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A neglected area of research within criminality has been that of the actual experience of the offence for the offender. The social science literature contains only scattered evidence of what it means, feels, sounds or looks like to commit a particular crime. Katz (1988) in his work Seductions of Crime proposed that empirical research has to focus on the foreground, rather than the background of crime and that the emotional significance of crimes needs to be considered more fully in order to understand the psychological processes that sustain and encourage cnme. This research examines and proposes a model of Criminal Narrative Experience (CNE) by exploring the emotions that criminals experience and the narrative roles that they act out across a broad range of crimes. Hypotheses and a series of questions were derived from the Circumplex of Emotions (Russell, 1997), Frye (1957), Narrative Theory (McAdams, 1988) and its link with Investigative Psychology (Canter, 1994). The analysis was based on 120 cases. Convicted for a variety of crimes, incarcerated criminals were interviewed and the data were subjected to Smallest Space Analysis (SSA). Results showed that the emotions reflected the circumplex structure of emotions postulated by Russell (1997) for non-criminal experiences. Thus, it was possible to identify four themes in relation to emotions: Elation. Calm. Distress. and Depression. However, they showed a stronger distinction between pleasure and displeasure than for the normal range of noncriminal experiences. with Russell's 'arousal' dimension being less clearly differentiated. In addition, criminals' emotions were found to be more intense than these of a "normal" population. Concerning criminal narrative roles four distinct themes were identified. These themes are: Adventurer. Professional. Revenger and Victim that reflect Frye's (1957) four story forms (Mythoi): Comedy, Irony, Romance and Tragedy. Further analysis showed that the emotional experiences are thematically significantly associated to the narrative roles, a finding that was supported both by statistical tests and Smallest Space Analysis. When both emotions and narrative roles were subjected to SSA four themes of Criminal Narrative Experience (CNE) were identified: Elated Adventurer, Calm Professional, Distressed Revenger and Depressed Victim from which scales with very high alpha reliability scores could be derived. Offenders' criminal history using the 042 Self-Report Offending Questionnaire (Youngs, 2001) was examined in relation to their Criminal Narrative Experience. Smallest Space Analysis showed that the d42 offending behaviours could be differentiated according to four themes: Violence, Dishonesty, Antisocial and Planning. Statistical tests revealed that the Elated Adventurer theme is significantly correlated with the offending behaviours of Planning, Dishonest and Antisocial while the Calm Professional with Planning. By examining differences between the index cnme and Criminal Narrative Experience analysis showed that different subsets of crimes were more likely to be associated with different emotions and narrative roles. The themes that reflect Criminal Narrative Experience were found to differentiate between different types of crimes. In broad terms, Elated Adventurer and Calm Professional were found to be associated with property offences (theft, burglary and robbery) and be experienced more pleasant than Distressed Revenger and Depressed Victim that were found to be associated with crimes against the person (sex offences, violence and murder) and experienced unpleasant. The implications of these findings for understanding crime on the basis of the Criminal Narrative Experience (CNE) are discussed. Important future directions for the study of crime are outlined.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: BF Psychology