Unpacking the Victim-Offender Overlap: On Role Differentiation and Socio-psychological Characteristics

Jean Louis van Gelder*, Margit Averdijk, Manuel Eisner, Denis Ribaud

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

43 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: Provide insight into the victim-offender overlap and role differentiation by examining to what extent socio-psychological characteristics, risky lifestyles/routine activities and immersion in a violent subculture explain differences between victims, offenders and victim-offenders. Specifically, we measure to what extent anxiety and depression, negative peer relations, dominance, and self-control account for differences in adolescents’ inclination towards (violent) offending, victimization or both, over and above risky lifestyles/routine activities or immersion in a violent subculture. Methods: Building on the method proposed by Osgood and Schreck (Criminology 45:273–311, 2007), we use two waves of panel data from the Zurich Project on the Social Development of Children and Youths, a prospective longitudinal study of adolescents in Switzerland. Results: Incorporating socio-psychological characteristics provides a more encompassing view of both the victim-offender overlap and victim versus offender role differentiation than routine activities/risky lifestyles and subcultural theory alone. Specifically, socio-psychological characteristics in particular differentiate between those who take on predominantly offender roles versus those who are predominantly victims. Conclusion: Unpacking the victim-offender overlap and examining differences in socio-psychological characteristics furthers our understanding of the etiology of the victim-offender overlap.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)653-675
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of quantitative criminology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Risky lifestyles
  • Routine activities
  • Subcultural theory
  • Victim-offender overlap
  • Victimization


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