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Durham e-Theses
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A typology of homicides: an investigation of Megargee's theory of control

McGurk, Barry J. (1977) A typology of homicides: an investigation of Megargee's theory of control. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.



In an attempt to explain why some mild mannered individuals commit extremely assaultive offences, Megargee (1966) has suggested that two personality types exist among extremely assaultive offenders, the undercontrolled who lack inhibitions against the expression of aggression and the overcontrolled who possess excessive inhibitions against such behaviour. Moderately assaultive offenders, however, are more likely to be composed soley of undercontrolled personalities according to Megargee's Theory of Control. The current study began by carrying out a cluster analysis of MMPI profiles of individuals convicted of homicide. Profile types remarkably similar to those obtained by Blackburn (l97l) from 'abnormal' homicides at Broadmoor were obtained which appeared to represent two broad categories of overcontrolled and undercontrolled individuals. A second cluster analysis of MMPI profiles from a random group of predominantly non-violent prisoners revealed, however, similar types. The results of a cluster analysis of WI profiles of non-criminals also challenged Megargee's theory as a profile type was produced which was similar to that found amongst extremely assaultive offenders, and which had previously been described as overcontrolled. The suggestion was made that 'controlled' was a more appropriate term than 'overcontrolled' and the validity of a controlled-undercontrolled typology was examined by contrasting controlled and undercontrolled homicides on a variety of background, intellectual, behavioural and attitudinal variables. In general support was found for the typology, particularly on prison oriented behavioural measures. The implications of the findings for the control and treatment of controlled and undercontrolled prisoners were discussed and a short MMPI scale which discriminated between these groups was developed, and tentatively named the Undercontrolled Personality Scale.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Date:1977
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:18 Sep 2013 15:35

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