First and foremost, the concept of serial killing is broadly defined as the act of killing or murdering three or more persons in a time frame of more than one solid month, with a reducing rate between consecutive deaths. Most importantly, such killings are based on psychological gratification. Regarding the causes or motives, this study adopts four different concept causes, these are: visionary, mission orientated, hedonistic, power or control.
Visionary killings are done by people experiencing psychotic distortions of reality and as such are compelled by some abstract forces to kill. The two forces are either godly motivated or demonic in nature. Mission oriented as another cause is meant to eliminate some people considered undesirable in the society. For instance, killings meant to get rid of homosexuals, a particular tribe, religion, or race. Crucial to note is the fact that mission oriented killers are not psychotic. Hedonistic killers seek thrills and derives considerable amount of pleasure from killing fellow human beings. This kind of killing has been divided into three subsets which include lust, thrill, and comfort. Lastly, power or control for serial killers is geared towards gaining control and autonomy over their victims.
Operationalization of the concepts will take four steps with each step tackling each concept. That means questions will be administered to each victim with an aim of determining his/her exact motive of killing. In connection, operational definitions are as follows; visionary killing is the act of killing fellow human beings as a result of getting directions from either God or Satan to do so; mission oriented killing is the killing to eliminate somebody one doesn’t want; hedonistic killing is the killing for personal pleasure and power killing is the killing to show ones power over the other.
Since the study is both qualitative and quantitative in nature, it will therefore adopt a combination of two measuring levels that will cater for the two parameters. The two levels are ordinal and interval scale. Ordinal scale will put the four concepts in ordering consecutive format from the first to the last one that is, 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th. The role of ordinal scale is to rank the four concepts from the most to the least prevalent without showing the magnitude of difference. On the other hand, interval scale will seek to determine the quantity of serial killers as well as the victims in each concept.
Reliability and validity are two important aspects of this study that will be taken into account on a serious note. The study intends to achieve reliability by ensuring consistency of measuring instruments in all situations. Validity, on the other hand, will be achieved by ensuring that the sample used represents the whole serial killers population and at the same time eliminates all forms of bias.
Since the study at hand is complex, it therefore calls for composite measures that will permit adequate interpretation. The two composite measures to be adopted are indexes that will combine multiple indicators of the four concepts; the second measure is the typology which will take place at the nominal level.