Approach-Avoidance Goals and Active-Passive Self-Regulation Styles in Homicide Offending: A Pathways Analysis

D. G. Gilligan, C. J. Lennings

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


The current study reports on the application of Ward & Hudson's self-regulation model to 26 homicide offenders found Not Guilty of Reason of Insanity (NGRI). Ward and Hudson's self-regulation model [Ward, T., & Hudson, S.M. (2000). A self-regulation model of relapse prevention. In D.R. Laws, S.M. Hudson, & T. Ward (Eds.), Remaking relapse prevention with sex offenders: A sourcebook (pp. 79-101). New York: SAGE.] distinguishes between offenders who have approach vs. avoidant goals, and between their uses of active vs. passive strategies in committing their offences. Results demonstrated that the model reliably identified offenders in three of the four pathway categories. Approach goal offenders compared with avoidant goal offenders were more associated with mainstream criminal offenders. Avoidant goal offenders were generally found to be more associated with a mentally disordered group of offenders. A further analysis of the data demonstrated that constructs of the two broad pathways of approach-active and avoidance-passive were not found to be mutually exclusive, with a combination four-path model resulting in a third pathway consisting of offenders with approach-passive self-regulatory styles. The pathway consisted of offenders where florid psychotic symptoms were prevailing during the time of the offence for these particular offenders. The present research highlights the strength of a four-path model over a two-path approach. A number of clinical implications of the model are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)590-607
Number of pages18
JournalPsychiatry, Psychology and Law
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • murder
  • offence pathways
  • offence process models
  • self-regulation


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