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A Multidimensional Approach to Ascertaining Individual Differentiation and Consistency in Serial Sexual Assault: Is It Time to Redefine and Refine?

NCJ Number
Journal of Police and Criminal Psychology Volume: 33 Issue: 1 Dated: 2018 Pages: 63-83
Marina Sorochinski; C. G. Salfati
Date Published
21 pages
This study empirically tested (a) the potential for effectively differentiating between rape offence crime scenes using quantitative and qualitative distinctions within the behavioral dimensions of control, violence, and sexual activity, and (b) the extent to which redefining behavioral consistency more broadly to include dynamic trajectories of behavioral change may be more effective than limiting this definition to behavioral stability.

Although investigative use of behavioral evidence to help link and solve serial offences has long been in use, the empirical and theoretical grounds for whether and how to use this evidence effectively have begun to emerge only in recent decades. Results of the current study confirmed that sexual offences can be successfully differentiated based on the specific degree and subtype of these behavioral dimensions present in each crime scene. The analysis of consistency and behavioral trajectories showed that although none of the offenders exhibited complete consistency across behavioral dimensions, a subsample of offenders remained fully consistent in at least one. Furthermore, of those who were not consistent, the vast majority followed an identifiable trajectory of change. Findings are discussed in the context of psychological theories of behavioral consistency as well as practical aspects of advancing the utility of behavioral linkage. (publisher abstract modified)