The Wiley Handbook on the Psychology of ViolenceWhy are Offenders Victimized so Often?
For several decades studies have persistently found strong positive associations between violent offending and victimization. This pattern – known as the victim‐offender overlap – is among the most durable empirical findings in the criminological literature. An increasing amount of research attention is directed at understanding its etiology, but progress has been limited. Research finds that theoretically relevant factors do not adequately explain the positive relationship between offending and victimization. Despite an abundance of research on the topic, rather limited attention has been paid to the situational context of interpersonal violence, particularly incidents involving disputes. Dispute‐related violence may be critical to the explanation of why offenders are more likely to be victimized than nonoffenders. The purpose of this chapter is to delineate the gaps in existing research on the victim‐offender overlap and to offer a social psychological perspective on the situational mechanisms that may be responsible for the victim‐offender overlap. The chapter also provides a conceptual illustration of the role of situational mechanisms and individual differences and provides recommendations for future research.