Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis - ECU Access Only


Edith Cowan University

Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology


Faculty of Community Services, Education and Social Sciences

First Supervisor

Dr Greg Dear

Second Supervisor

Dr Alfred Allan


This research investigates whether and to what extent the thematic structure of robbery offence behaviours identified in L. Alison, W. Rockett, S. Deprez & S. Watts, 2000 is replicated for an Australian sample of serial robbers. Offence variables representing variations in the degree of planning (proactive-reactive) and self-control (rational-impulsive) were examined from a sample of offences obtained from 91 serial robbery offenders using data obtained from police Offence Reports in Western Australia. A Smallest Space Analysis (SSA) tended to support the relevance of these psychological processes to robbery behaviour and considered to offer a meaningful basis for distinguishing between robbery offences according to three narrative themes. However, the thematic structure of the "Amateur" robber (identified in previous research as "Bandits") differed in some respects from that proposed by Alison et al. (2000). This research further aimed to evaluate the hypothesis that proposes the consistency of these themes as a function of narrative roles. Overall, a total of 78 cases (85. 7%) were found to exhibit the same 'pure' or hybrid theme across at least two of the three offences committed in the series and considered to provide some support to the hypothesis that the SSA structure represents the dominant themes underlying robbery behaviour and the utility of narrative theory as a useful framework in explaining variations in offence behaviour. Whilst results indicated that offence behaviour of individual robbers were consistent with the themes underlying differences in robber styles, the examination of specific offence variables using Cochran' s Q tests and frequency analysis suggests that some caution must be incorporated into investigative strategies involving the use of single behavioural indicators in the identification of serial offenders and offence linking. Whilst these results have implications for research methods that focus on identifying clusters of behaviours that reflect meaningful aspects of "personality", the nature of behavioural consistency suggests that this robber typology may be improved with further investigation of situational factors influencing crime scene behaviour in order to achieve the development of a more productive model for contemporary offender profiling.