This Honors thesis explores the links between media and copycat crime, and what media factors influence the triggering of copycat crime. Many scientists propose different psychological mechanisms that cause people to copy crimes portrayed in media. Copycat crime occurs on a global scale, and different countries have implemented various government policies to prevent the growth of media generated copycat crime. By examining the policies enforced by different countries, this paper proposes a solution to this growing social problem. Overall, the purpose is to identify why copycat crimes occur, and how they can be prevented for the future. Several case studies where people have deliberately copied crime portrayed through various media sources are discussed. Additionally, many of the articles provide examples where too much information may have been given away in media content. In all, the people mentioned in those articles admit to being inspired by media. Studies have also been conducted on the relationship between media and copycat crime. Several of the studies included in this paper conducted surveys on inmates of all different ages, races, social background, etc. In the studies, participants said they found media as a helpful crime tool. Some studies have even discovered which sources the participants found most useful. In the end, it was difficult to decipher which psychological mechanism was the main cause of media generated copycat crime. Many of the authors cited in the paper emphasize the need for further research. Yet many agree that multiple mechanisms may be to blame. Most believe that media acts as a catalyst for copycat crime. Some argue that crime would still exist without media, but how crime happens may be inspired by media content. It is clear that media generated copycat crime is a prevalent issue in multiple societies. This issue is also discussed Page 3 of 59 throughout numerous disciplines. That is why it is critical that more attention be given to this ever growing social problem.


copycat crime, media

Document Type


Year of Completion



Forensic Science


Dr. Melkonian

Academic Department