Offenders' crime narratives as revealed by the narrative roles questionnaire

Donna Youngs, David V. Canter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Citations (Scopus)


The study of narrative processes as part of the immediate factors that shape criminal action is limited by the lack of a methodology for differentiating the narrative themes that characterise specific crime events. The current study explores how the roles offenders see themselves as playing during an offence encapsulate their underlying crime narratives and thus provide the basis for a quantitative methodology. To test this possibility, a 33-item Narrative Roles Questionnaire (NRQ) was developed from intensive interviews with offenders about their experience of committing a recent offence. A multidimensional analysis of the NRQ completed by 71 convicted offenders revealed life narrative themes similar to those identified in fiction by Frye and with noncriminals by McAdams, labelled The Professional, Victim, Hero, and Revenger offence roles. The NRQ thus is a first step in opening up the possibility of empirical studies of the narrative aetiological perspective in criminology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)289-311
Number of pages23
JournalInternational Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology
Issue number3
Early online date13 Jan 2012
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2013


Dive into the research topics of 'Offenders' crime narratives as revealed by the narrative roles questionnaire'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this