Serial Killers Shaped by Society?

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A sociologist and criminologist at the University of Alberta, Kevin Haggerty, claims his new research proves that serial killers are not shaped by psychological factors, but by society. Haggerty says that as a whole, psychology has made little to no progress in understanding serial killers. He claims that in his research he has found that in many cases, serial murderers choose their victims based on the individuals that society deems unwanted. The example he gives is Robert Pickton from Vancouver, who chose victims who all happened to be female prostitutes.
Haggerty also says that the fame serial killers get from the media may provoke more fame-seeking individuals to pursue the act of killing.

Many, including myself, would disagree with these findings completely. In the case of society playing a factor in how serial killers choose their victims, Haggerty may be confusing correlation with causation. Just because society alienates a certain group of people, and some serial killers victimize that same group of people, does not mean that the serial killers victimize these people BECAUSE of their alienation. It very well could be that the two factors have little to do with one another.
Also, Haggerty's "research" on the effects of fame on serial killers is not very replicable. Eric Hickey, a sociologist and criminal psychologist, pointed out that only some serial killers seem to be motivated by fame and society. He gives examples of killers like Jeffrey Dahmer and Gary Ridgway, both very well known serial killers who were not interested in their killings being publicized, to show that Haggerty's "findings" do not provide an explanation for why serial killers do what they do.
It is more realistic to assume that serial killers do what they do based on a combination of factors relating to both nature and nurture.

The article about Haggerty's ideas can be found here:
http://news.discovery.com/human/serial-killer-society.html

View a video about why some psychologists believe more men are serial killers than women here:
http://investigation.discovery.com/videos/most-evil-secrets-of-murder.html

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This page contains a single entry by ihlef015 published on October 2, 2011 9:43 PM.

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