Psychodynamics of the Criminal’s Signature

One of the biggest obstacles law enforcement faces when investigating a violent crime is the mindset and motivations of the criminal act.  This is where the signature of the offender comes into focus and it should be studied carefully.  It’s an important aspect of finding out who committed the crime and it’s something, I believe, that should be well understood by those who are involved in any type of an investigation. 

An offender signature is the pattern of distinctive type of behavior that is characteristic of satisfying their emotional and psychological needs.  This “need” actually feeds the motivations of the individual.  There are conscious and unconscious processes as well as emotions that determine personality as well as motivation.  These are based on intelligence, experiences, and environment along with previous and learned behaviors. 

There are many things that contribute to every individual’s method of behavior.  For example, one person would take money from someone else’s wallet if they thought they wouldn’t get caught and another person wouldn’t have the motivation to do so.

The five main (but not limited to) motivations include:


Anger & Retaliation

Reassurance & Experimentation

Assertiveness & Entitlement


However, different offenders do similar things during the crime, but for different reasons.  For one offender, there are multiple behaviors, motivations, and influences that contribute to their criminal behavior during a specific type of crime.  For example, they use certain tools, pick certain victims, commit crimes at a specific time, etc. They all have different histories along with different likes and dislikes that help to fuel this criminal process.

It has been theorized that criminal behaviors are the result that the human developmental process has been derailed, and the result is that the individual associates pleasure with violence or other criminal activities.  These types of association, varied over time, contribute to an offender’s way of seeking to satisfy their emotional and psychological needs during the commission of crime. 

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About jchasenovelist

Published thriller author, criminologist, and blogger.
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