3 Modern Theories of Victimology

Victimologist working from a desk

Victimology is the study of crime victims. It’s a subset of criminology, the study of crime. People who study victimology, or victimization, examine the psychological effects of crimes on the victims, the interactions between victims and the criminal justice system and the relationships between victims and offenders. Modern theories of victimology try to explain why some are more likely than other to become victims of a crime.

Three areas within of study within victimology include the following:

Victim Precipitation Theory

The victim precipitation theory suggests that the characteristics of the victim precipitate the crime. That is, a criminal could single out a victim because the victim is of a certain ethnicity, race, sexual orientation, gender or gender identity.

This theory does not only involve hate crimes directed at specific groups of people. It might also involve occupations or activities. For example, someone who is opposed to his or her views may target a political activist. An employee may target a recently promoted employee if he or she believes they deserved the promotion.

Lifestyle Theory

Lifestyle theory suggests that certain people may become the victims of crimes because of their lifestyles and choices. For example, someone with a gambling or substance addiction could be as an “easy victim” by a con artist.

Walking alone at night in a dangerous area, conspicuously wearing expensive jewelry, leaving doors unlocked and associating with known criminals are other lifestyle characteristics that may lead to victimization.

Deviant Place Theory

There is some overlap between the lifestyle theory and the deviant place theory. The deviant place theory states that an individual is more likely to become the victim of a crime when exposed to dangerous areas. In other words, a mugger is more likely to target a person walking alone after dark in a bad neighborhood. The more frequently a person ventures into bad neighborhoods where violent crime is common, the greater the risk of victimization.

There is also some overlap between the deviant place theory and socioeconomic approaches to victimization. Low-income households are more likely to be located in or near dangerous areas of town, and individuals from poor socioeconomic backgrounds are less capable of moving away from these dangerous areas.

Victimology, threat assessment and criminal behavior are just a few of the topics you will study in Grand Canyon University’s Bachelor of Science in Justice Studies degree program. This program is offered by the College of Humanities and Social Sciences and provides a solid framework that students can draw from as they pursue rewarding careers in the criminal justice field. Begin your academic journey today by visiting our website or clicking on the Request More Information on this page.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.