Murder is the most notorious crime that violates religious, social and cultural norms. Examining the types and number of different killing methods that used are pivotal in a murder case. However, the psychological traits underlying specific and multiple killing methods are still understudied. The present study attempts to fill this gap in knowledge by identifying the underlying psychological traits of different killing methods among Malaysian murderers. The study adapted an observational cross-sectional methodology using a guided self-administered questionnaire for data collection. The sampling frame consisted of 71 Malaysian male murderers from 11 Malaysian prisons who were selected using purposive sampling method. The participants were also asked to provide the types and number of different killing methods used to kill their respective victims. An independent sample t-test was performed to establish the mean score difference of psychological traits between the murderers who used single and multiple types of killing methods. Kruskal-Wallis tests were carried out to ascertain the psychological trait differences between specific types of killing methods. The results suggest that specific psychological traits underlie the type and number of different killing methods used during murder. The majority (88.7%) of murderers used a single method of killing. Multiple methods of killing was evident in 'premeditated' murder compared to 'passion' murder, and revenge was a common motive. Examples of multiple methods are combinations of stabbing and strangulation or slashing and physical force. An exception was premeditated murder committed with shooting, when it was usually a single method, attributed to the high lethality of firearms. Shooting was also notable when the motive was financial gain or related to drug dealing. Murderers who used multiple killing methods were more aggressive and sadistic than those who used a single killing method. Those who used multiple methods or slashing also displayed a higher level of minimisation traits. Despite its limitations, this study has provided some light on the underlying psychological traits of different killing methods which is useful in the field of criminology.
* Title and MeSH Headings from MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.