Date of Conferral







Eric W. Hickey


Previous researchers have found mass murderers characterized as loners, victims of bullying, goths, and individuals who had a psychotic break. A gap in the literature that remained concerned the motive and mindset of mass murderers before their attack, particularly those who seek fame, and why they are motivated by such violent intentions. The purpose of this study was to provide a deeper analysis of the characteristics of fame-seeking individuals who have completed or attempted mass murder, as well as insight into their behavior on social media. The conceptual framework consisted of a constructivist model, which guided the exploration the purposeful sample of 12 Americans who completed or attempted mass murder. The research questions aligned with themes provided by Bandura's social learning theory, Sulloway's theory of birth order and family dynamics, Millon and Davis's psychopathy theories, O'Toole's findings on the copycat effect, and Lankford's criteria for fame-seeking mass murderers, and guided an analysis of open-source data. Six main themes among fame-seeking individuals in the United States who had completed or attempted mass murder emerged: (a) fame as primary motivation, (b) preoccupation with violence, (c) presence of specific role models/copycat behavior, (d) strong opinions about society/racial groups, (e) symptoms of narcissism/mood disorder/personality disorder, and (f) failed relationships. These findings add to the knowledge about mass murder and fame seeking. Social change may occur through recommended evaluation of and improvements in current mental health approaches, improved threat assessment, expanded education on characteristics of mass murderers, and dissemination of information related to mass murder.