Reappraising and Redirecting Research on the Victim–Offender Overlap
The strong positive association between offending and victimization, or the victim-offender overlap, has received considerable amount of research attention in recent years. Empirical research has made important strides in unpacking the sources of the phenomenon, but important questions remain unanswered. Ambiguity surrounds the utility of certain theoretical explanations for the overlap, the nature of the phenomenon, and the methodological tools used to examine its etiology. Owing to these knowledge gaps, the scientific meaning of the victim-offender overlap is unclear. Moreover, a number of potentially important theoretical arguments are rarely subject to empirical testing in this line of research. The purpose of this article is to use a narrative review methodology to provide a critical reappraisal of the theoretical, empirical, and methodological research on the victim-offender overlap and offer directions for ways forward to develop a more comprehensive understanding of the phenomenon. This review includes critical analysis of 78 academic publications, along with a table that summarizes the key findings and conclusions from 18 critical empirical studies that have contributed to our understanding of the victim-offender overlap. We offer recommendations for the continued development of theoretical and methodological tools to better understand this complex phenomenon.