Psychology, Department of


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A DISSERTATION Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Major: Psychology, Under the Supervision of Professor Mario J. Scalora. Lincoln, Nebraska: August 2010
Copyright 2010 Douglas O. Cacialli


The potential merits of Carver and Scheier's (1981) control theory in the prediction of targeted violence are reviewed and several novel indicators of risk that are consistent with this theory are suggested for study. It was hypothesized that: (a) similarity between inappropriate contact with politicians and extremist group literature and writings; (b) the temporal proximity to violent or otherwise criminal actions and notable anniversaries of such groups; (c) detailed specification of a plan to engage in problematic approach behavior, and; (d) self-focus, will be significant predictors of problematic approach behavior. A sample of 506 individuals who engaged in threatening or otherwise inappropriate contact toward members of the United States Congress was drawn from the case files of the United States Capitol Police.

Results of the present research indicated that detailed specification of a plan to engage in problematic approach behavior was strongly predictive of actually engaging in problematic approach. Furthermore, high self-focus was significantly related to problematic approach between-persons, although within-person, higher-than-average self-focus showed no such relation. Neither temporal proximity to notable acts of extremist violence nor similarity to known extremist group writings was found to be associated with problematic approach in this sample.