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Pathways to School Shootings: Toward a Dual-Process Developmental-Situational Model of Choice

NCJ Number
Date Published
241 pages

This dissertation analyzes the understudied topic of school shootings’ etiology and prevention.


The author of this dissertation examines U.S. school shootings’ origin and prevention through the utilization of dual-process models of decision making with life-course criminology and situational theories of violence to investigate the differential pathways to school shooting incidents. The author draws data from The American School Shooting Study (TASSS) and five waves of longitudinal data on 249 school shooters’ antisocial behaviors in the U.S. The research aims of this study include: empirically charting school shooters’ antisocial trajectories in the five years before the shooting incident; examining the situated opportunities, such as facilities and firearms access, and social interactions implicated in the school shooting event; and examining the current research to understand the degree to which indicators of dual-process decision making before the shooting remained a function of the shooters’ differential antisocial development and the situated opportunities and social interactions involved in the shooting incident. Noteworthy findings indicated that school shooters tend to follow two trajectories of antisocial conduct: the dominant trajectory, about 80 percent, followed an event proximal path; the second trajectory, approximately 20 percent, followed a variable increase path. The author notes, however, that membership in the two trajectory classes failed to reliably predict system one versus system two decision making.

Date Published: January 1, 2020