Student Scholar Symposium Abstracts and Posters

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 5-2021

Faculty Advisor(s)

Dr. Edson Cruz, Dr. Ed Dana, Dr. Jessica Walker


School shootings are a global phenomenon that have attracted public and academic interest since the Columbine shooting in 1999 (Raitanen, Sandberg, & Oksanen, 2019). Social scientific research focuses on underlying causes of school shootings and identifies factors that may lead to these acts of violence. My interdisciplinary study fills a gap in this literature by using psychological and sociological theories, such as the fundamental attribution theory, locus of control, and gender socialization, to examine the public’s perceptions of school shooters. Specifically, I identify and analyze the perceptions of school shooters held by different generational groups, including Gen-Z and Baby-Boomers. Participants completed an online survey with scaled questions about school shooters and their characteristics. The study intends to find that younger age groups perceive school shooters as victims of society and personal life circumstances, including mental conditions, bullying, and parenting. Additionally, they may have more explanations for why school shooters commit these acts of violence. By contrast, the study intends to find that older age groups will likely perceive school scooters as sole perpetrators of the shootings and have fewer explanations for why school shootings occur. My research has the potential to decrease school shootings in the future. As institutions better understand the widespread perceptions of school shooters, they can design preventative programs and effectively communicate about school shootings with teachers, policymakers, and therapists.


Presented at the virtual Spring 2021 Student Scholar Symposium at Chapman University.