Psychology, Department of


Date of this Version

Summer 6-2015

Document Type



Hoff, S. M. (2015). Self-Protective Behaviors and Campus Threat Assessment. (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, Nebraska.


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: June, 2015

Copyright (c) 2015 Sarah M. Hoff


Extreme acts of targeted violence on postsecondary campuses have prompted many institutions to commit more resources to increasing safety while maintaining an open and creative environment. Investigations after incidents of targeted violence on campuses have identified pre-incident behaviors, or “red flags,” that were observed before the perpetrator engaged in violence. Threat assessment is a proactive approach to preventing acts of targeted violence that was initially developed by members of the United States Secret Service (USSS), and has since expanded into the context of postsecondary campuses. Research has shown some individuals may engage in self-protective behaviors in order to reduce their risk for personal victimization. The current study utilizing a survey in a sample of undergraduate students examined self-protective behaviors in the context of campus threat assessment. Consistent with prior research, results suggest women report lower feelings of safety and engage in more self-protective behaviors. Approximately one-third of the sample reported observing pre-incident behaviors, though only 21.5% reported these behaviors to campus police. The most commonly cited reason for not reporting was that a dangerous situation did not appear immediate. Conversely, almost half of the individuals who observed pre-incident behaviors reported they consulted a friend about the incident.

Advisor: Mario J. Scalora