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Identifying psychological pathways to polyvictimization: evidence from a longitudinal cohort study of twins from the UK

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Peter T. Tanksley, J. C. Barnes, Brian B. Boutwell, Louise Arseneault, Avshalom Caspi, Andrea Danese, Helen L. Fisher, Terrie E. Moffitt

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)431-461
Number of pages31
JournalJournal of Experimental Criminology
Issue number3
Accepted/In press1 Jan 2020
Published1 Sep 2020

King's Authors


Objectives: Examine the extent to which cognitive/psychological characteristics predict later polyvictimization. We employ a twin-based design that allows us to test the social neurocriminology hypothesis that environmental factors influence brain-based characteristics and influence behaviors like victimization. Methods: Using data from the Environmental Risk Longitudinal Twin Study (N = 1986), we capitalize on the natural experiment embedded in a discordant-twin design that allows for the adjustment of family environments and genetic factors. Results: The findings indicate that self-control, as well as symptoms of conduct disorder and anxiety, are related to polyvictimization even after adjusting for family environments and partially adjusting for genetic influences. After fully adjusting for genetic factors, only self-control was a statistically significant predictor of polyvictimization. Conclusion: The findings suggest polyvictimization is influenced by cognitive/psychological characteristics that individuals carry with them across contexts. Policies aimed at reducing victimization risks should consider interventions that address cognitive functioning and mental health.

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