Running Head: MURDER AND THE SOCIAL LEARNING THEORY Liggin 7
Into the Mind of Serial Murders and Connection to the Social Learning Theory
By Elisa Liggin
Serial murder has been depicted and dramatized for decades from movies, songs, and the news. As of 2012, there has been 3,204 serial killers within the United States alone, making up 67% of the world’s population of killers. Within this study I will be looking into the characteristic that set these killings apart from other variations of murders and killings, the characteristic of the victim most targeted, and the characteristic that are found within a majority of perpetrators. This includes both background and physical traits. With the social learning theory I will be seeing how these killers learn to commit these killings from those they observe throughout their life, especially their childhood.
Homicide is defined in our book as the willing killing of another human being however, it the definition does differ from that of murder which is an unlawful homicide as homicides include those made in self-defense or in defenses of a family member which are seen as justified and therefore legal in the eyes of the law. Murder can also be known as nonnegligent homicide (Schmalleger, 2016, p. 171). Within the realms of homicide there are three distinguished types of murder including: first degree murder; which is known as premeditated murder, second degree murder; which can also be a “crime of passion” where the intent and the homicide itself manifest at once, and third degree murder, or negligent homicide; which is killings that happen in result to some sort of negligence such as drunk driving or leaving your firearm unattended around a child. For the sake of this essay I will be focusing on the idea of first degree murder, more specifically, serial murder. The Federal Bureau of Investigation states that the definition of serial murder can vary throughout the years. However, in 1998, Congress passed the Protection of Children from Sexual Predator Act of 1998 which also gave a concrete definition to serial murder which states that serial murder is series of three or more killings with a majority of them occurring in the United States over a period of time known as a “cool off period” (Morton, 2008). This could be defined as weeks to even years as seen in cases such as Jeffrey Dahmer who’s killing occurred from 1978 to 1991 but continue to have similar characteristics as past killings. The idea of a cooling off period is what sets serial murder apart from a mass killing.
As stated in the introduction the most recent information given by the Radford University and Florida Gulf Coast University Serial Killer Database in 2012. There has been 3,204 in the United States, making up 67.58% of the population of all serial murderers in the world. The fact that the United States makes up close to 68% of the world’s population of serial murderers, with most of the...