Situational Factors in Disputes Leading to Criminal Violence

RICHARD B. FELSON, HENRY J. STEADMAN

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

240 Scopus citations

Abstract

This article examines the interactive process leading to criminal violence. Official data from 159 incidents of homicide and assault that were not committed in conjunction with other crimes and that resulted in incarceration were examined with respect to the actions of offenders, victims, and third parties. These incidents tended to follow systematic patterns. They began with identity attacks, followed by attempts and failures to influence the antagonist. Threats were made and finally the verbal conflict ended in physical attack. It appears that retaliation is a key principle in the escalation of these incidents in that aggressive actions by the victim were associated with aggressive actions by the offender and the likelihood that the victim would be killed. The importance of situational identities for retaliating was suggested bg the moderately strong relationship observed between identity attack and counterattack. Retaliation also occurred for strategic reasons, in that offenders were more likely to kill aggressive victims when those victims used weapons.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)59-74
Number of pages16
JournalCriminology
Volume21
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 1983

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Law

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