General Question

rachelmusil's avatar

Psychology behind female mass murderers vs male.

Asked by rachelmusil (40points) April 3rd, 2009

Why are there so many more male mass murderers than female.
What are the psychological differences between the two situations?

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18 Answers

adreamofautumn's avatar

I don’t have the book in front of me, but i’d recommend picking up and reading a copy of “the serial killer files”. Great read and it’ll help answer this question. :)

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

No assertion of psychological tendencies based upon gender is ever going to be 100% conclusive.
The best we can do is look at the statistical data. In this case, men are by far, committing mass murder more than women. When was the last time you heard of a woman going on a shooting rampage?

It’s probably a similar reason as to why suicidal men are more likely to do the deed using a firearm whereas suicidal women use less violent methods such as pills or cutting.

Does this prove that men are inherently more violent than women? I would say no.
I think it’s more likely that this trend is due to familial and societal influences rather than physiology.

nikipedia's avatar

@The_Compassionate_Heretic: As someone who has studied gender differences scientifically, I beg to differ (to the extent that any science can ever be considered “conclusive”).

Where do you suppose those societal influences came from? Teasing apart society and biology is harder than you might imagine…

To answer the original question: it probably has something to do with testosterone and sexual dimorphism in a couple different brain regions (the amygdala, prefrontal cortex, and hypothalamus). That stuff is hotly contested in the literature, though, and falls prey to the same chicken/egg problem as the society/biology question.

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

@nikipedia First I love your name. 2nd, I’ll admit your exerience makes your answer more credible than mine.

NaturalMineralWater's avatar

You could also throw into the mix the statistics of the race of the mass murderer. If I’m not mistaken they are predominately white males. Very interesting indeed.

FrankHebusSmith's avatar

I’ve had a few criminology classes, and the popular “opinion” in them was that men like to assert power, and killing someone is about the best way to do that. Moreover men are simply more physically able to commit murder in most cases.

Mass murderers are extremely rare to begin with though.

rachelmusil's avatar

@naturalmineralwater yeah, and from what I’ve read, they usually say they snapped because of job loss.

NaturalMineralWater's avatar

@rachelmusil Oh really? hmm hadn’t heard that before.. so what we got is a bunch of people goin postal eh? Well I blame the post office.. somebody has to stop them.

fundevogel's avatar

when exactly does one stop being a serial killer and start being a mass murder? ‘Cause I can think of a few female serial killers, but not any mass murderers.

FrankHebusSmith's avatar

I would consider a serial killer a mass murderer.

fundevogel's avatar

doesn’t it need to include multiple murders within a single spree or act? Like with kool-aid or that guy at immigrations?

NaturalMineralWater's avatar

I consider a mass murderer to be someone who went crazy and decided to shoot up the block.

I consider a serial killer to be someone who believes that they aren’t crazy.. who doesn’t want to get caught.. but wants the attention… someone who plans on killing repeatedly.. not one crazy go-out-with-a-bang act of retardedery.

fundevogel's avatar

if that’s the case I don’t know of any female mass murders. Just the usual angels of death, fake SIDS moms and so on.

rachelmusil's avatar

Mass is 4+ people at the same time.
I cant remember where I read that though, so don’t quote me.

rachelmusil's avatar

“The term “mass murder” refers to the killing of four or more people during a particular event. Examples would include killing several people in the course of a robbery, or setting a crowded nightclub on fire where four or more deaths occur. Two of the first mass murderers in modern American times were Richard Speck and Charles Whitman.” -Wikipedia

oratio's avatar

I feel that it is about power too. Or more like loss of it. Feeling of loss of control of your life. I would say it is the same as with serial rape.

Kayak8's avatar

A study of happens when a sociopathic brain is bathed in testosterone vs estrogen may well yield the answer.

sohamthe2nd's avatar

The majority of mass murderers may be men, but this doesn’t mean that the majority of men are mass murderers.

Just in the same way as if one were to remark “All Indian people are intelligent”, we should not conclude this statement implies that “All intelligent people are Indian”. The only assertion here is, “If you are Indian, you must be intelligent”. But you very well could be American, German or Jamaican and still be intelligent. (note, this is just a hypothetical example).

2.I don’t think this “serial killer” citation warrants any conclusions regarding male psychology. Don’t forget that the majority of Nobel peace laureates are men.

3. Women are just as disposed to greed, cruelty, hatred and violence. These are essentially human traits and women are human after-all.

4. The only difference is how these emotions manifest. Female violence may not be direct or physical and may be largely psychological/emotional. The issue of which is worse is an entirely different matter, but the fact remains that women are still subject to the same passions that drive men to commit murder.

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