A Social Interactionist Approach to the Victim-Offender Overlap

Berg, M.T.; Felson, R.
Apr-06-2021

Abstract

Objectives

A social interactionist perspective suggests that violent offenders are frequently victims of violence because of the way they behave, and the way third parties behave during verbal disputes that lead to escalation. We examine to what extent violent offenders are more likely to be victimized because they tend to engage in provocative actions, are less likely to engage in remedial actions, and more likely to be intoxicated, and because third-parties have a greater tendency to encourage aggressive behaviors during disputes involving offenders.

Methods

Analyses are based on an original situational-level survey of male inmates and men in the community about characteristics of their verbal and violent interpersonal disputes. We examined the extent to which various dispute-related behaviors and third-party actions mediated the relationship between offending and two study outcomes: whether the dispute became violent and whether the antagonist was victimized.

Results

Using two measures of violent offender status, we find that violent actors are more likely to engage in verbal aggression during disputes, are less likely to engage in remedial actions, and are more likely to be intoxicated. Third parties are more likely to be present during the disputes of offenders and they tend to encourage escalation. Combined, these situational processes mediate a substantial portion of the relationship between offending and violent victimization.

Conclusions

The findings indicate the victim-offender overlap is partly due to the behaviors of offenders and third parties during disputes that significantly increase the risk of conflict escalation.

Citation

Berg MT, Felson R. A Social Interactionist Approach to the Victim-Offender Overlap. 2019;535222528425127380421074141123665874264544685599539422251602125252052771956274041702730466333451324344181333139264071969(3631721). doi:10.1007/s10940-019-09418-9.