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Violence Risk: Re-Defining Variables From the First-Person Perspective

NCJ Number
Aggression and Violent Behavior Volume: 17 Issue: 3 Dated: May/June 2012 Pages: 198-207
Suzanne Yang; Edward P. Mulvey
Date Published
June 2012
10 pages
This article discusses the risk of violence from the offender's point of view.
Over the past 25 years, there have been notable advances in violence risk assessment of mentally ill individuals using actuarial methods to define high versus low risk groups. A focus on readily observable risk factors, however, has led to a relative neglect of how the offender's subjective states may be valuable to consider in research on the ongoing assessment and prevention of violence. The authors argue for the relevance of considering idiographic features of subjective experience in the development of structured assessment methods. The authors then identify three heuristic groups of existing constructs related to aggressive and illegal behavior that may capture modifiable, time-varying aspects of mental functioning leading up to involvement in an act of violence. These hypothesized domains are: (i) construal of intent and cause; (ii) normative reference points; and (iii) emotion recognition and regulation. The study suggests that risk state for violence can be studied in a parsimonious and direct manner through systematic research on coded speech samples. The coding method for such an assessment procedure would be almost identical to existing structured clinical judgment instruments with the difference that variables be defined from a first-person point of view. Some implications of this approach for the tertiary prevention of violence in high-risk individuals are described. (Published Abstract)