Look who's stalking: Obsessive pursuit and attachment theory

Christina L. Patton, Matt R. Nobles, Kathleen A. Fox

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


Few criminological theories have been applied to the study of stalking perpetration, and even fewer address the presence of underlying psychological mechanisms. Attachment theory describes the ways in which an individual with a chaotic family environment in childhood may develop feelings of insecurity that may lead to increased aggression and violent behavior in adolescence and adulthood. In this study, a sample of college students (N = 2,783) were queried on self-reported stalking behaviors and the revised Experiences in Close Relationships (ECR-R) measure of adult attachment. Stalkers scored significantly higher on the insecure-anxious scale of attachment and lower on insecure-avoidant scale. Other psychological variables (major/minor psychiatric diagnoses, depression, and anger-related issues) were also examined, with a history of anger-related diagnosis or treatment positively and significantly associated with stalking perpetration. Implications for theory development in stalking and future research directions are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)282-290
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Criminal Justice
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2010
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Applied Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Law


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