Studying rape through a theoretical lens: The development of a serial rape model using FBI data

Brooke Alison Smith, University of Texas at El Paso


The current study assessed whether there is an empirical foundation for different theories of rape including the feminist, evolutionary, social disorganization, psychopathy, and rapist type theories. Using a data set from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on serial rapists collected in the early 1990's, the study included two phases. The first phase assessed whether FBI data supported the previously mentioned theories of rape by analyzing associations between individual variables that are thought to support each theory. Support was demonstrated for the evolutionary and psychopathy theories. Using MPlus statistical software to accommodate the multi-level nature of the data, the second phase of the study developed and assessed the fit of a model of rape incorporating situational factors associated with the severity and duration of a rape, the use of force during the rape, and the physical injuries sustained by the victim. The findings of phase 1 were applied to the model of rape in phase 2 to explain rape behavior demonstrated in the model. The current study empirically assessed the validity of numerous theories of rape and developed a comprehensive model of serial rape to explain the situational factors associated with the violent act better and properly educate against it.

Subject Area

Behavioral psychology|Womens studies|Criminology

Recommended Citation

Smith, Brooke Alison, "Studying rape through a theoretical lens: The development of a serial rape model using FBI data" (2011). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI3457981.