Date of Award

Spring 5-12-2017

Degree Type

Honors Thesis



First Advisor

Narina Nunez


It was hypothesized that society profiles mass murderers in a very specific way contradicting the reality of who the offenders are statistically shown to be. It was correspondingly hypothesized that a mass murderer is labeled more commonly as mentally ill and socially isolated than a serial killer, regardless of the death toll. To assess the lay profile of killers, participants were randomly assigned to either a mass killer or serial killer crime scenario. They then read a brief description of the crime and completed extended response and multiple choice questions on characteristics of the offender. Results supported the hypothesis that the lay profile of a serial killer and mass killer differ in mental health differ greatly. Additionally, the hypothesis that the lay profile differs from who killers are statistically shown to be was both supported and denied.