Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Counseling and Psychological Services

First Advisor

Roger O. Weed - Chair

Second Advisor

JoAnna F. White

Third Advisor

Roy M. Kern

Fourth Advisor

William L. Curlette

Fifth Advisor

Dean A. Dabney


ABSTRACT MURDERERS AND NONVIOLENT OFFENDERS: A COMPARISON OF LIFESTYLE, PAMPERING, AND EARLY RECOLLECTIONS by Richard A. Highland Alfred Adler outlined a theory of crime that suggests criminals suffer from a lack of social interest and have experienced parental pampering and childhood hyperactivity. He posited that these forces lead to criminality; however, his theory remains largely untested. A review of the criminological literature indicates that most theories of crime lack cognitive elements with adequate operational definitions. A convenience sample of male and female convicted murderers (n = 94) and nonviolent offenders (n = 76) derived from state prisons and parole populations were compared to find if differences in lifestyle attributes, parental pampering, and childhood hyperactivity exist. Prison inmates and parolees completed a demographic and criminal history questionnaire, the BASIS-A Inventory (Wheeler, Kern, & Curlette, 1993), Parental Behavior Questionnaire (Williamson, 1992), Paulhus Deception Scale (Paulhus, 1999), Wender-Utah Rating Scale (Ward, Wender, & Reimherr, 1993), and recorded three early recollections. MANOVA tests on murderer and nonviolent offender data using scales from the BASIS-A Inventory indicates that murderers scored significantly lower (p < .01) than nonviolent offenders on the Belonging Social Interest scale of the BASIS-A Inventory. A "W" aggregate profile on the BASIS-A Inventory data among the nonviolent offenders support prior research and validates the efficacy for using that instrument among criminal populations. MANOVA tests revealed that murderers had more childhood symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder than nonviolent offenders (p <.05); however, reported parental pampering did not vary by level of violence. Finally, a qualitative analysis of early recollections using the Early Recollections Rating Scale (ERRS; Altman, 1973) reveal moderate correlations between ERRS themes and Belonging Social Interest Going Along, and Being Cautious scales of the BASIS-A Inventory among all participants. Analysis of the data demonstrates partial support for Adler’s theory of crime. In particular, violent criminals exhibit less social interest, report higher levels of childhood hyperactivity, and more often report early recollections with themes of passivity and dependency than nonviolent offenders. Data support the usefulness of lifestyle appraisal among criminal populations as a means to improve methods for assessment and treatment of these offenders.