Social Science Theories


4 pages




For this assignment you will review a serial killer’s case in depth. The killer you choose to review will also be the subject of your Week 5 final assignment, so keep your research material handy.

“First, choose one of the following serial killers (your choice should be a person you have not already discussed for an assignment in this course):

David Berkowitz (son of Sam) taunted police over a year and shot fifteen people (six died) in New York City. The movie “Summer of Sam” was about this time.
Gary Ridgeway (the Green River Killer) holds the American record for most victims. He confessed to killing forty-eight over a sixteen-year period but is suspected of having killed many more!
Wayne B. Williams is believed to be the killer of twenty-four children and young men in Atlanta, though there is still some doubt.
John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo were the “DC snipers” who shot thirteen people (ten died) over three weeks in the Washington DC area in 2002.
Ted Bundy: Confessed to almost thirty murders (there may have been more). He was known for being smart and good-looking, and acted as his own lawyer.
Jeffrey Dahmer: His case captured worldwide attention after his capture, mostly due to his habit of keeping parts of his victims long after their deaths, as well as cannibalism and necrophilia.
Kristen Gilbert: An example of a female serial killer, she was a nurse who killed hospital patients in her care.
For this assignment, create a 4- to 5-page report in Microsoft Word document, that covers the following points:

Summarize the case: time period, location, number of victims, etc.
Describe the killer’s background, methods, and area of operation.
Determine which of the theories from Week 2 relate to this killer and show why you made this determination.
How did the killer select his or her victims? Was there anything that the victims did to provoke the killer? Are the victims in this case in any way responsible for their own deaths?
By analyzing all of the above information, you should now be able to propose a three-part typology and explain your analysis. Your typology should describe the killer’s motivation, location, and organized or disorganized factors. For instance, John Wayne Gacy might be described as a Power/Control, local, organized killer.




WEEK 2 theories 

The term “etiology” is based in medicine and means the study of the causes. The literature offers numerous theories based in many different sciences: sociology, criminology, psychology, neurology, and biology to determine the causative factors of serial killing and mass murders. It is important for you first to have a good grasp of these theoretical underpinnings before you are able to make any educated assumptions regarding the perpetrator.

Several different theories and models explain the act of homicide. You can classify these theories into two categories. These are:

Social Theories: These theories explore the social factors involved in causation.
Psychobiological and Biochemical Theories: These theories belong to the school of psychology that interprets personality, behavior, and mental illness in terms of responses to interrelated biological, social, cultural, and environmental factors.
Most of the theories that have been created to explain violent human behavior center around socialization. Each one of the social theories explains a different social aspect of an offender’s behavior. Some important social theories are:

Strain Theory
Social Structure Theory
Social Class Theory
Social Process Theory
Social Control Theory
The MacDonald Triad Theory
Let’s examine these theories in an effort to understand their approaches toward comprehending criminal behavior.


Assignment 2 Grading Criteria
Maximum Points
Analyzed and accurately reviewed the chosen case.
Analyzed and provided the killer’s background.
Applied appropriate theories from the class materials to the killer, and showed how the theories apply.
Analyzed how the killer chose his victims and the role that the victim played.
Analyzed and proposed an appropriate three-part typology and showed appropriate reasoning.
Written components.

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