"Ordinary men" or "evil monsters"? An action systems model of genocidal actions and characteristics of perpetrators

Kerrilee Hollows*, Katarina Fritzon

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


This study aimed to address the limitations of the existing genocide literature with the development of an empirically based classification system. Using Shye's (1985) action systems model, it was hypothesized that four types of perpetrators would exist and would be distinguishable by differences in the sources and target of individual criminal actions. Court transcripts from 80 perpetrators sentenced by the international courts were subject to content analysis and revealed 39 offense action variables, 17 perpetrator characteristic variables, and 6 perpetrator motive variables. A smallest space analysis using the Jaccard coefficient of association was conducted on the offense variables. The results supported the proposed framework, producing four distinct types of genocidal perpetrators. Correlational analyses were then conducted to examine the relationships between each of the perpetrator types and the remaining variables. The results of those correlations provided further support for the proposed framework. The implications of these findings are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)458-467
Number of pages10
JournalLaw and Human Behavior
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2012


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