an infamous serial killer and perform an analysis of this individual’s motivation, in terms of at least two of the four learning theories. a 3- to 5-page handout for police officers, explaining the behavior of serial killers in terms of established learning theories and theories of motivation. Identification of intrinsic and extrinsic rewards in the killers’ behaviors Demonstration of application of theory-based motivation ( xpectancy-value, elf-worth, ocial omparison,
Serial killers have long fascinated and horrified the public due to their heinous crimes and the complex motivations behind their actions. Understanding the motivations of these individuals is crucial for police officers and investigators in order to prevent future crimes and apprehend offenders. In this handout, we will analyze the behavior of an infamous serial killer from the perspective of two prominent learning theories: behaviorism and social learning theory.
Behaviorism, a theory developed by B.F. Skinner, posits that behavior is solely a response to external stimuli and reinforcement. According to this theory, the actions of a serial killer can be understood in terms of the rewards and punishments they receive for their behavior. Intrinsic rewards, which originate from within an individual, are internal feelings of satisfaction or pleasure derived from engaging in certain behaviors. Extrinsic rewards, on the other hand, are external rewards or reinforcements received from the environment. These rewards can include money, attention, notoriety, power, or a sense of control.
Serial killers often experience a sense of control and power over their victims, providing them with intrinsic rewards that reinforce their behavior. They may derive pleasure from the act of taking a life or exerting dominance over their victims, which satisfies their sadistic tendencies or psychological desires. The act of killing may give them a sense of empowerment and self-worth, which serves as a powerful intrinsic reward that motivates them to continue their murderous activities.
In addition to intrinsic rewards, serial killers may also seek extrinsic rewards. These rewards can come in various forms, such as media attention, the thrill of escaping capture by law enforcement, or evading social norms and expectations. The notoriety and fear generated by their crimes can also fulfill their desire for power and control. These external rewards further reinforce their behavior and contribute to a cycle of violence and criminal behavior.
Furthermore, the social learning theory, proposed by Albert Bandura, posits that individuals learn behavior through observation of others, imitation, and the expectation of rewards or punishments. Serial killers may have been exposed to violence or abusive behavior during their formative years, either through direct experiences or observation of others. They may have learned aggressive and violent behaviors as a means to solve problems or cope with emotional difficulties.
In terms of social comparison theory, serial killers may compare themselves to other notorious criminals or individuals who have achieved fame or recognition through their acts of violence. They may idealize these criminals and aspire to attain similar recognition and fear from society. This desire for notoriety and the belief that their actions can elevate them to a higher status contribute to their motivation to commit murder.
Additionally, the expectancy-value theory, developed by John Atkinson, suggests that individuals are motivated to engage in a behavior if they perceive a high likelihood of success and if they value the expected outcome. Serial killers may have a distorted perception of the likelihood of success in their criminal activities, leading them to believe that they can continue to evade capture and avoid punishment.
Moreover, the anticipated rewards associated with their crimes, such as the pleasure derived from the act of killing or the fear and attention generated by their actions, can create a strong motivation to continue their murderous behavior. Serial killers often engage in meticulous planning and careful selection of victims, which may further enhance their perceived probability of success and the value they place on the expected outcome.
In conclusion, the behavior of serial killers can be understood through the lens of behaviorism and social learning theory. The rewards and punishments they receive, both intrinsic and extrinsic, play a significant role in motivating and reinforcing their actions. Understanding the motivations behind serial killers’ behaviors is essential for law enforcement personnel in order to develop effective strategies for prevention, intervention, and apprehension of these dangerous individuals.