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"Deciding" to kill: understanding homicide offenders’ decision making

Brookman, F and Wright, M (2017) "Deciding" to kill: understanding homicide offenders’ decision making. In: The Oxford handbook of offender decision making. The Oxford Handbooks in Criminology and Criminal Justice, 6 . Oxford University Press., Oxford, pp. 587-610. ISBN 978-0-19-933880-1

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Abstract

This chapter examines the cognitive, affective, and situational factors that influence the decision-making processes of those who kill. With little existing research that specifically focuses on homicide offender decision making, this chapter brings together criminological and psychological research on violence-related cognition, affect, and the situational dynamics of violent encounters. The authors make the case for combining perspectives in order to better understand decision making and homicide. Four case studies, two cases of homicide and two of sublethal encounters, illuminate offenders’ thoughts and feelings prior to and during the commission of the offense and illustrate the complex interplay of cognitive, affective, and situational factors in lethal and near-lethal events. The chapter concludes with proposed avenues for future research.

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