Help me find a study online
March 9, 2012 3:22 PM   Subscribe

Please help me find a sociology/psych study about the likelihood of people committing homicide for money.

I was talking to some friends the other day, and somehow the subject of murder for hire came up. I vaguely remembered a study which found that the majority of people (test subjects) said they would kill someone they didn't know for a paltry sum (something like $1000 or $10,000), if there was no chance of getting caught. So I mentioned it and some of my friends said that sounded totally bogus and unbelievable. It really is disturbing to think so many "normal" people would theoretically commit homicide for cash, and I understood their skepticism. So I tried to find the study in question online but I've had no luck. Can anyone point me in the right direction? Thanks.

(BTW, I hope I picked the right category for this question. I suppose it could also fall under "society and culture" and "human relations")
posted by Devils Slide to Science & Nature (7 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Here is a article that states contract killers are usually paid between a few hundred dollars and $25,000.00.

Granted, they are discussing rates for actual criminals, not normal people being surveyed. However, might that article be what you're remembering?

For more on normal people's willingness to do cruel things, check out the literature on Milgrams electric shock experiments.
posted by slateyness at 3:53 PM on March 9, 2012

No, that Slate article definitely isn't it. This was an experiment/study conducted in the US, I believe, and my memory's fuzzy but I'm quite sure well over 60% of the subjects said they'd take part in murder for hire under those circumstances.

And I'm familiar with the interesting yet disturbing electric shock experiments and how the vast majority of subjects administered what they believed to be lethal electric shocks.
posted by Devils Slide at 4:01 PM on March 9, 2012

BTW, eponysterical indeed ;)
posted by Devils Slide at 4:02 PM on March 9, 2012

Oh, hah! Unintentional eponhysteria.
posted by slateyness at 4:10 PM on March 9, 2012

In searches, references to this article (saying 60% of men in a study would do this if they were assured of not being caught) was what came up first: "60% of the participants in the present study indicated some likelihood of raping or using force given certain (albeit hypothetical) circumstances." p. 319.

John Briere, Neil M Malamuth (1983) Self-reported likelihood of sexually aggressive behavior: Attitudinal versus sexual explanations. Journal of Research in Personality, 17(3), P. 315-323.

I will keep looking, but there's that on the off chance you misremembered.

Also, thanks bunches for making my search history look seriously shady, dude.
posted by cashman at 9:07 PM on March 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

Wow, that study sounds equally interesting and disturbing, however I'm quite sure that wasn't it either. It was definitely about murder for hire and a potential specific dollar payout for the deed.

Also, thanks bunches for making my search history look seriously shady, dude.

I don't suppose a favorite will make up for it?
posted by Devils Slide at 9:22 PM on March 9, 2012

Not your study but it does contain $ figures for contract killing: Completed Contract Killings in Australia [PDF].
An essential element in any contract is the offer of money for the completion of the contract. In 39 out of the 77 incidents, the reward type specified was money only. For 32 of these incidents, the actual amount was specified. Three-quarters of the contracts specified an amount of less than $20,000 (n=24) (see Figure 4). In terms of a single amount, there were 10 contracts that specified the amount of $5,000 being payment for the completion of the contract. A further five contracts specified the amount of $10,000. The average payment for a contract was about $16,500, and the lowest payment specified in a contract was $500 and the highest payment was $100,000, of which this amount was specified for two contracts.

It was further examined whether the amount specified for the completion of the contract varied based on whether the relationship between the instigator and target was of an intimate nature (intimate partners and family combined). This analysis revealed that when the contract involved the killing of an intimate partner or family member, the payment amount was more likely to be less than $20,000 than when the contract involved a non- intimate instigator and target (80% versus 65%).
It's a quite interesting paper actually. I was surprised at this:
• The most common motive in the attempted contract killings was the dissolution of a relationship
• There were no attempted offences associated with criminal networks or organised crime
posted by unliteral at 10:53 PM on September 27, 2012

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