Seven deadly sins: The development of a qualitative understanding of homicide offender motive

B. Parker

Queensland University of Technology

The paper explores homicide motive through a situational lens in order to determine whether they differ in terms of their victim, offender, and offence characteristics.  The aim is not to identify why people engage in homicidal behaviours, but instead to examine whether there are particular distinctive qualitative characteristics that distinguish motives.  One hundred and forty nine Australian homicide cases are analysed using Qualitative Comparative Analyses (QCA).  The results of the descriptive analyses indicate that each motive is associated with both distinct and shared defining characteristics.  Furthermore, the results of the QCAs indicate that there are both distinct and shared combinations of victim, offender, and offence conditions for each, and between motives, with important qualitative features that may distinguish the motives from one another.  This research forms the first step in the exploration of homicide motive as the ostensible reason, or purpose, for the homicide’s occurrence, whilst examining it from a situational perspective.  It highlights the importance of looking beyond the general homicide statistics and disaggregating them by motive.  Furthermore, the results form the foundation for further development of motive models, which may be relevant to both investigative and judicial processes.


Belinda is currently a PhD student at the Queensland University of Technology.  She has attained a Bachelor of Music (Performance) and Bachelor of Social Science (Psychology) with honours before turning to her higher education in criminology.  Her area of interest is motive, particularly with regards to homicide, and her current research is exploring the situational characteristics associated with the motives in order to determine whether they differ in terms of their victim, offender, and offence characteristics.