This thesis explores college students' attitudes toward serial killers based on the media's portrayal of serial killers. Different images of serial killers were gathered from a content analysis of popular media, criminal justice journals and feminist literature. Questionnaires were distributed to 51 male and 55 female college students at the College of Wooster in the Winter of 1994. Preliminary questions on the questionnaire tapped at key independent variables: sex, tabloid television viewing patterns, hours of television viewing a week, population density of subject's residential community, and whether or not the subject has ever been a victim of a crime. The second section of the questionnaire was recorded with a 5-point Likert-scale measuring subjects' attitudes toward the dependent variable, images of serial killers. Results showed that the predicted relationships between the independent and dependent variables were often reversed and that the intrinsic-extrinsic concepts were not useful in determining attitudes toward serial killers. This may be due to the extensive media effects and difficulty in determining its effect. Future research is suggested, focusing on the effect media has on shaping individuals attitudes. More emphasis might be placed on creating a more reliable study with a control group and different research design.


Blair, Robert


Sociology and Anthropology

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis

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© Copyright 1994 Delia A. Hoye