Motivation for offending and personality


Department of Psychology, Institute of Psychiatry, De Crespigny Park, Denmark Hill, London SE5 8AF, UK (e-mail:


Purpose. The main aim of the study was to examine the relationship between motivation for offending and personality.

Method. A specially constructed Offending Motivation Questionnaire (OMQ) was developed along the lines of Farrington's (1986, 1993) theoretical framework. The OMQ, the Mak Self-Reported Delinquency Scale, the Gudjonsson Compliance Scale (GCS), the Gough Socialisation Scale, the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale, and the Gudjonsson Blame Attribution Inventory (BAI-R) were administered to two groups of students: college students and university students.

Results. Factor analysis of the OMQ revealed four motivational factors for offending (Compliance, Provocation, Financial, Excitement) and one further factor associated with the failure to appreciate the consequences of the criminal act. As predicted, the GCS correlated significantly with a compliance motive (i.e. being coerced, manipulated, or tricked into crime by a peer, or eagerness to please a peer), whereas the remaining four factors were associated with a low score on the Gough Socialisation Scale. External and Mental Element attributions were mainly found to be associated with provocation and consequences factors.

Conclusions. The findings support the view that there is a relationship between the motivation for offending, failure to appreciate the consequences of one's actions and personality. Further research should focus on studying this relationship among criminal populations.