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Theorizing the Motive of Crime: Administrative Behavior (Essay Sample)

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Turvey (2011) defines motive as “the emotional, psychological, and material needs that impel and are satisfied by behavior” (p. 276). This means that offenders do not commit crimes just for the sake of it, but to achieve a specific goal that is self-benefiting. Theft, for instance, is usually, and correctly so, linked to the desire for financial gain, which is a powerful motive for a jobless, uneducated city dweller. Rational Choice Theory gives further insight into the essence of motive by stating that potential offenders make rational choices on the basis of their analysis of the costs and benefits associated with the crime. If the benefits personal gain) outweighs the cost (risk of being caught), the offender proceeds with the crime. For instance, a bank robber realizes that he or she will be taking a big risk trying to steal from a facility with advanced security systems- the risk of getting caught, identified through security cameras, or failing to access the money, is very high. If successful, however, he or she will make a way with a fortune. It is the possibility of making a big financial gain that is usually the motivation behind theft-related crimes. In light of the strong link between personal gain and motive, the best method for interpreting motive is one that takes into account the factors and behaviors associated with personal gain. Accordingly, I consider administrative behavior as the most effective method for interpreting motive for crime.

Administrative behavior model suggests that offenders are often motivated by financial, material, or personal gain.  This method provides a comprehensive approach for considering all the possible motivational drives for crime. The three elements of financial, material, or personal gain covers nearly every possible motivation for crime, except on those associated with psychological needs such as revenge or sexual satisfaction.

Administrative behavior provides an accurate assessment of motivational factors because it takes into account the rational nature of most crimes. The approach dispels the myth that most offenders are maniac, thoughtless psychos who are driven by impulse. Even in impulsive cases, such as psychopathic serial killers who are motivated by the sense of power associated with being in control of another person’s life, there is logical calculations in the way the offender identifies a potential victim, stalks the victim, and maps out where, when, and how to attack. In this regard, the administrative behavior model allows investigators to rule out or accept motivational factors through a rational analysis of the various factors that can push an offender to commit a crime, as well as the logical satisfaction that the offender would seek to achieve from the crime.

The administrative behavior model is also effective because it takes into account the reality of offenders. It focuses on real life situations that drive individuals to commit crime. For example, the elements of material and financial gain reflect the circumstances under which white collar crime, kidnappings, mugging, burglaries, robberies, and all forms of theft crimes occur. In addition to considering the totality of the circumstances surrounding a crime to determine motive, the model places emphasis on understanding the life circumstances of the offender to establish possible financial or personal problems that could have acted as motivation for the crime. A classic scenario in white collar crime is that of a lowly-paid clerk with mortgage, bank loan and college fees burdens. These factors present strong cause factors to make one engage in white collar crime to make meets end. In considering the life circumstances of a suspect, such as lifestyles, administrative behavior perspectives can help to link a crime to habits that are not directly related to the commission of a crime, but provide personal satisfaction for which the offender needs money to attain. Good examples include gambling and drug addiction, which are themselves not motives, but are sources of personal satisfaction which the offender can achieve by stealing money. Such factors have been linked to white collar crimes like embezzlement, forgery and fraud (Albanese, 2008, p. 334). Accordingly, administrative behavior does not merely associated motive for theft with simply being broke- most fraud cases are committed by high-paid executives- but also considering personal behaviors and habits that can act as a psychological push into committing crime.  

In conclusion, motivation refers to the emotional, psychological and material needs that encourage and are satisfied by a behavior. In determining the nature and cause of motive, crime investigators adopt different approaches, which have their own strengths and weaknesses. An effective method, however, should provide criteria for identifying the motivation for a wide selection of crimes. The method’s wide application makes it a useful tool for crime investigators for qualifying and disqualifying potential suspects. Towards this goal, the administrative behavior model is an effective tool for interpreting behavior because it covers a wide range of crimes, as well as takes into account the circumstances surrounding a crime. In addition, it goes beyond the immediate circumstances of a crime by seeking to find motive in the suspect’s lifestyles and habits. In this regard, the model provides a through and comprehensive approach for interpreting motive.


Albanese, J. S. (2008). White collar crimes and casino gambling: looking for empirical links to

forgery, embezzlement, and fraud. Journal of Crime, Law and Social Change, 49(5), 333-347.

Turvey, B. (2011). Criminal profiling: An introduction to behavioral evidence analysis (4th ed.).

Burlington, MA: Elsevier.

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