Differentiating contract killers: A narrative-based approach

Miroslava Yaneva, Maria Ioannou, Laura Hammond, John Synnott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
31 Downloads (Pure)


Previous attempts to determine contract killers’ behaviour have not benefited from any formal psychological framework of behavioural distinction. The Narrative Action System model (NAS model; Canter and Youngs 2009) offers an empirical basis for differentiating contract killings and examining the psychological underpinnings of different contract killer styles. The model identifies four major narrative offender types: Professional, Revenger, Hero, and Victim. The present study aims to examine whether these themes can be applied to contract killing. Content analysis of 75 contract killer cases identified 56 crime scene actions. Data were subjected to a non‐metric multidimensional scaling procedure, namely Smallest Space Analysis (SSA‐I). Findings revealed four distinct types of contract killers that could be related to the four modes of offending proposed by the NAS model. Differences in the thematic structure of contract killing offences are discussed, and implications are offered for clinical and investigative purposes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)107-123
Number of pages17
JournalHoward Journal of Crime and Justice
Issue number1
Early online date23 Jan 2018
Publication statusPublished - 6 Mar 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • contract killers
  • crime scene behaviours
  • criminal differentiation
  • investigative psychology
  • multidimensional structure


Dive into the research topics of 'Differentiating contract killers: A narrative-based approach'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this