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NCJ Number: 50698 Find in a Library
Title: PSYCHOLOGY'S UNDERSTANDING OF ARSON - WHAT DO WE KNOW, AND WHAT DO WE NEED TO KNOW?
Journal: FIRE ARSON INVESTIGATOR  Volume:28  Issue:1  Dated:(1977)  Pages:45-52
Author(s): W J MORETZ JR
Corporate Author: International Assoc of Arson Investigators
United States of America
Date Published: 1978
Page Count: 8
Sponsoring Agency: International Assoc of Arson Investigators
Marlboro, MA 01752
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: PSYCHOLOGICAL RESEARCH CONCERNING THE MOTIVATION OF ARSONISTS IS REVIEWED, ALONG WITH KEY ISSUES FOR CONSIDERATION BY BEHAVIORAL SCIENCE RESEARCHERS.
Abstract: AN EXAMINATION OF EXISTING RESEARCH LITERATURE UNDERSCORES THREE TYPES OF APPROACHES TO THE ARSON PROBLEM. FIRST THERE IS WHAT MIGHT BE CALLED THE 'ARM-CHAIR DEDUCTIVE APPROACH' WHICH ALLOWS RESEARCHERS TO BEGIN WITH A PARTICULAR PSYCHOLOGICAL THEORY AND TO DEDUCE THE ARSONIST'S PERSONALITY STRUCTURE AND MOTIVATION FROM THE STANDPOINT OF A SPECIFIC THEORY. SECOND, THERE IS THE KIND OF STUDY THAT MIGHT BE CALLED THE 'CASE-STUDY/PERSONAL EXPERIENCE' APPROACH IN WHICH AUTHORITIES ATTEMPT TO DRAW CONCLUSIONS BASED ON A LIMITED NUMBER OF CASE STUDIES OR THEIR OWN EXPERIENCE AS FIRE PROTECTION PROFESSIONALS. ALTHOUGH BOTH APPROACHES SUFFER FROM THE DANGERS OF SELECTIVE PERCEPTION AND SAMPLING BIAS, CRITICISM OF SUCH RESEARCH IS TEMPERED BY THE REALITIES OF THE SOCIAL SITUATION REGARDING ARSON: WELL-DESIGNED, PROGRAMMATIC RESEARCH TAKES MONEY AND SUCH RESEARCH FUNDS ARE IN SHORT SUPPLY. A THIRD TYPE OF STUDY THAT APPEARS TO BE MORE PROMISING INVOLVES SOME SYSTEMATIC EFFORT TO GATHER PSYCHOLOGICAL DATA FROM LARGE SAMPLES OF APPROPRIATELY-SELECTED SUBJECTS THROUGH THE USE OF VALIDATED PSYCHOLOGICAL INSTRUMENTS. TWO STUDIES CONFORMING TO THESE MORE RIGID RESEARCH CRITERIA HAVE FOUND A TENDENCY AMONG ARSONISTS TOWARD PROPERTY CRIMES AND SUCH SHARED CHARACTERISTICS AMONG ARSONISTS AS PREVIOUS OFFENSE RECORDS, POOR SCHOOL CONDUCT, AND POOR FAMILY BACKGROUNDS. ISSUES THAT MUST BE ADDRESSED IN FUTURE RESEARCH INCLUDE THE FOLLOWING: (1) A FOUNDATIONAL TAXONOMY, THAT IS, A MORE PRECISE MEANS OF CLASSIFYING ARSONISTS; (2) LONGITUDINAL ANALYSIS OF THE DEMOGRAPHICS OF ARSONISTS; (3) SYSTEMATIC ATTENTION TO THE PSYCHOLOGY OF THE ARSONIST; (4) EFFECTIVE TREATMENT MODALITIES; (5) RESEARCH REGARDING PUBLIC ATTITUDES TOWARD ARSON, ARSONISTS, AND THE ENFORCEMENT OF ARSON LAWS; AND (6) FORENSIC PARTICIPATION BY CLINICIANS (I.E., PSYCHIATRISTS, PSYCHOLOGISTS, AND SOCIAL WORKERS). REFERENCES ARE PROVIDED. (KBL)
Index Term(s): Arson; Behavioral science research; Psychology; Research methods
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http://www.ncjrs.gov/App/publications/abstract.aspx?ID=50698

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