'Deciding’ to Kill: Understanding Homicide Offenders' Decision-Making

Fiona Brookman, Michelle Wright

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter examines the cognitive, affective, and situational factors that influence the decision-making processes of those who kill. With little existing research that specifically focuses on homicide offender decision making, this chapter brings together criminological and psychological research on violence-related cognition, affect, and the situational dynamics of violent encounters. The authors make the case for combining these three perspectives in order to better understand decision making and homicide. Four case studies, two cases of homicide and two of sublethal encounters, illuminate offenders’ thoughts and feelings prior to and during the commission of the offense and illustrate the complex interplay of cognitive, affective, and situational factors in lethal and near-lethal events. The chapter concludes with proposed avenues for future research.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Offender Decision Making
EditorsWim Bernasco, Jean-Louis van Gelder, Hank Elffers
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Electronic)978-0199338818
ISBN (Print)978-0199338801
Publication statusPublished - 17 Jul 2017

Publication series

NameThe Oxford Handbooks in Criminology and Criminal Justice
PublisherOxford University Press


  • Homicide
  • sublethal violence
  • lethal violence
  • situational dynamics
  • criminal decision-making


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