U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Theory, Research, and Intervention with Arsonists

NCJ Number
Aggression and Violent Behavior Volume: 16 Issue: 3 Dated: May/June 2011 Pages: 241-249
James Horley; Desirae Bowlby
Date Published
June 2011
9 pages
The literature on arsonists, both young and old, is reviewed.
Theory concerning intentional fire-setters, including so-called pyromaniacs, is examined critically. Despite some imaginative attempts to explain arsonists' underlying motives, the existing theories appear limitedso inadequate, perhaps, as to explain the relative lack of theory over the past 20 or 30 years. Empirical work, especially recent typological and classificatory research, is presented and considered. Developmental and demographic factors such as unstable childhood, low socioeconomic status, and marital status have been found to be associated with fire-setting. Although when combined with other factors such as alcohol abuse, the picture that emerges is not very different from that of other offender groups. Finally, arson treatments and their outcomes employed are presented briefly. Despite the continuing social cost of arson, there appear to be few well planned, well executed, and highly effective interventions with this problematic offender group. Some suggestions for addressing a number of problematic issues concerning arson theory and treatment are offered. (Published Abstract)


No download available