CUP Undergraduate Research


The Connection between Societal Influences and the Prevalence of Serial Killers: Across Time and Culture

Date of Award

Spring 4-1-2015

Document Type

Restricted Access Thesis


College of Theology, Arts, & Sciences



Degree Name

Psychology, BA

First Advisor

Reed Mueller, Ph.D.


The purpose of this thesis is to examine patterns in serial killer occurrences crossnationally and over time to determine possible societal, personal, and culturally influential factors, using a historical-comparative methodology. The four comparison nations of this study included the United States, Canada, England, and Iceland. The United States was selected because since the early 1900’s, it has had the highest number of serial killer occurrences worldwide, with several high-profile cases. England was chosen because it ranks second in the world in serial killer occurrences after the United States, providing an additional example of country rate. Canada was selected because it is one of the nations to have a recent increase in serial killer cases, most occurring within the last few decades. Iceland was selected as a counter-comparative, because in its history it has had only one serial killer case, and has been known as the least violent Nordic country. These four nations were cross compared on the grounds of family structure and the possibility of a history of abuse, media adaptation of true and fictionalized stories about murder, and military involvement of the individual and the nation as a whole. Some possible patterns were viewed, but further research would need to be completed before any possible associations can be described as well-founded.

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