What is the Concept of Identification in Threat Assessment?

Research Paper Title

The Concept of Identification in Threat Assessment.


Identification is one of eight warning behaviours – superordinate patterns of accelerating risk – that are theorised to correlate with targeted violence, and have some empirical validation. It is characterised by one or more of five characteristics:

  1. Pseudo-commando behaviour;
  2. Evidence of a warrior mentality;
  3. A close association with weapons or other military or law enforcement paraphernalia;
  4. Wanting to imitate and often surmount previous attackers or assassins; or
  5. Believing oneself to be an agent to advance a particular cause or belief system.

The authors briefly explore:

  • The history of the psychology of identification;
  • Its current usage; and
  • Its application to threat assessment.

Four cases are used to illustrate identification as both a process and a product, and a likely motive for targeted violence in some subjects.

Its operational relevance for threat assessment is suggested.


Meloy, J.R., Mohandie, K., Knoll, J.L. & Hoffmann, J. (2015) The Concept of Identification in Threat Assessment. Behavorial Sciences & The Law. 33(2-3), pp.213-237. doi: 10.1002/bsl.2166. Epub 2015 Feb 27.


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