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date: 18 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter reviews what is known about victim selection—that is, the question of why offenders select some people, but not others, to be victims of crime. It first addresses theoretical perspectives on victim selection, namely the structural–choice model of victim selection, social interactionism, and target congruence. It then describes three data sources that have been used in prior research to study victim selection: police reports, victimization surveys, and offender interviews. Subsequently, empirical findings on victim selection are reviewed and organized into nine subsections: victims’ demographic characteristics, psychological characteristics, physical characteristics, behavior, biological characteristics, prior victimization, relationship to the offender, behavior during the offense, and the role of randomness. The final section discusses research gaps and potential future directions in the field, including an emphasis on theoretical explanations and mediators, cross-cultural studies, methodological innovation and diversity, interactions between victim and offender characteristics, and generality across crime types and subpopulations.

Keywords: victimization, target selection, decision making, opportunity theory, social interactionism

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