Faculty Publications


Employing mixed methods to explore motivational patterns of repeat sex offenders

SelectedWorks Author Profiles:

Joan A Reid

Document Type


Publication Date

January 2013


Purpose: Understanding the motivation of sex offenders plays a key role in societal perception of victim culpability and offender responsibility. This study identified patterns of offender motivation, assessed motivation stability across offenses, and estimated the influence of offense/victim specific factors on motivation in comparison to offender factors.

Methods: Employing mixed-methods sequential explanatory research design, the study utilized confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) to identify motivational factors underlying 346 crime events. Second, motivation stability was assessed across offenses committed by 69 offenders. Finally, interview data were reviewed to assess whether offender types emerged corresponding to CFA results.

Results: A motivational typology was identified comprised of five offender groupings built upon two underlying constructs, one driven by sexual gratification and the other linked to anger/aggression. Minimal change in motivation was observed across offenses committed by the same offender against different victims. Offense/victim specific influence (22-23%) and offender related influence (77-78%) were similarly distributed withboth sexual and anger-driven motivation.

Conclusions: Motivation plays a key role in offending. Offense/victim specific factors have similar proportional influence on crime motivation in comparison to offender factors irrespective of the type of motivation. Contrary to popular public perception, victim blame is not warranted regardless of what motivates offenders.