Zeyrek-Rios, Emek (2018) Experiential Aspects of Crime: A Narrative Approach. Doctoral thesis, University of Huddersfield.

The central goal of the current thesis is to understand the experience of crime committed by various types of offenders and, in so doing to examine its psycho-social and criminal background correlates. This is explored by drawing on a narrative approach. This approach includes both the episodic roles criminals play during the crime as well as broader aspects of their understanding of their life story. A consequent research question is the relationship between their life narratives and their conceptualisation of their roles when committing their crimes.

This perspective views the immediate components of the criminal experience as emotional and cognitive, essentially subjective in nature, thus self-report measures are used to uncover these internal processes. In the current thesis, the Narrative Roles Questionnaire (NRQ) was used. This is a standardized, quantitative method designed to reveal an offender’s crime narratives. In addition to the NRQ an offender’s general view of self/world and life was measured with the Life Narrative Questionnaire which is composed of positive and negative life narrative themes. The offenders’ history of offending was measured by the D-60 (History of Offending Questionnaire) which consists of three distinct offending styles, namely Instrumental, Sensory and Power. All these measures, along with a demographic information were completed by 468 Turkish prison inmates.

Each questionnaire was translated into Turkish. Reliability and validity analyses revealed more than satisfactory results, which indicated the applicability of these scales in Turkish culture. Results indicated a consistency between life and offence narratives in terms of strength. This suggests that independent of the direction (negative vs positive), offenders
who have a strong attitude towards themselves/life/world have a stronger commitment to the roles they enact during the offence.

There was also a significant relationship between history of offending styles and offence roles. This showed that except for the Victim role, all offence roles are associated with aspects of the history of offending. This differentiates the Victim role from others as being more circumstantial and not associated with previous criminal behaviour. These results are relevant to developing different rehabilitation strategies for offenders based on the roles they enact during the offence. In addition, the results show that, while life outside of crime has more predictive power for the Victim and Hero NRQ roles, for others history of offending behaviour has more predictive power.

The results of the third relationship, between the life narrative themes and history of offending styles, show that a negative life narrative theme is associated with a history of Instrumental and Sensory offending styles. Whereas a positive life narrative is associated with the Power offending style. Also, offenders with a strong attitude towards
life/world/themselves score higher on the Power offending style. These results uncover the relationship between criminal history and how offenders see themselves/life and world outside of crime.

There is evidence supporting specialisation in offending because distinct factors emerged in the history of offending scale. Each offending style is shown to be associated with different psycho-social and criminal background characteristics. The results show that the effects of an offender’s attitude towards a) their lives outside of crime, b) their history of criminal behaviour, and c) their experience of crime, vary based on the narrative roles they
enact during the offence.

Furthermore, the results show that life narrative themes moderate the relationship between history of offending styles and offence roles, which indicates that one’s view of self/life/world (which is accepted as a dynamic, changing and unfolding factor) has an impact on how history of offending (which is a static, unchanging factor) affects the offence role choice which is an immediate experiential aspect of crime.

The major methodological contribution is the adaptation of the three primary measures to the Turkish context and the work shows the high ecological validity of these scales in a novel cultural context. Along with presenting an understanding of the experiential aspects of criminality, the major theoretical contribution of the current thesis is to provide
empirical evidence for the theory that there is consistency in an offender’s behaviours in crime and outside of crime, and that this consistency is effectively revealed through the application of narrative theory.

The theory and results open paths to the development of rehabilitation and crime prevention strategies by targeting life narratives of offenders. They point to the potential development of interview techniques based on offence roles. Furthermore, there are applications of the history of offending and offence role relationships to police investigations; understanding the revealed associations would help investigators to infer offender characteristics.

Zeyrek Rios FINAL THESIS.pdf - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution No Derivatives.

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