CUP Undergraduate Research


The Relationship between Insecure Attachment and Serial Murder: A Persuasive Literature Review

Date of Award

Spring 4-1-2010

Document Type

Restricted Access Thesis


College of Theology, Arts, & Sciences



Degree Name

Psychology, BA

First Advisor

Erin Mueller, PhD


This literature review examines the effect of insecure attachment and how it relates to antisocial behavior and serial killing. Abuse and familial and social relationships, along with the appearance of psychological and personality disorders, are analyzed to understand their effects on the developing person. Select case studies of serial murderers are reviewed. This paper compares male serial killers with female child serial murderers. Trends found among serial murders include a history neglect and abuse by caretakers which may develop into insecure attachment. Personality disorders and extensive criminal histories are also prevalent. As expected, a relationship exists between insecure attachment, the development of an antisocial personality, and the formation of a serial killer, regardless of sex or age. If the sources of the development of serial murderers are understood, then efforts can be made towards finding solutions to amend the problem.

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