Motives for rape

Richard B. Felson, Marvin Krohn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


We develop a socio-sexual model and a punishment model of rape, borrowing from the theoretical literature on other forms of violence. Preliminary tests of these models are performed using victimization data from the National Crime Survey. In support of the socio-sexual model, younger women are more likely to be raped than older women during a robbery, suggesting a preference for younger women even when opportunity is controlled. In addition, nonstrategic violence is less likely during rapes involving younger offenders and victims, suggesting that these crimes are more likely to be sexually motivated. There is also evidence for the punishment model: Injury is more likely when the offender and victim are an estranged couple, suggesting that some men use rape and violence during rape to punish the victim for some grievance. Further, in contrast to robbery, offenders with weapons are more likely to injure victims, suggesting the nonstrategic use of violence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)222-242
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Research in Crime and Delinquency
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 1990

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology


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