ISU Professor’s Research in Criminology Gains International Interest
November 17, 2022
This fall, Dr. DJ Williams, Professor of Sociology, Social Work, and Criminology at Idaho State University, was invited to present research at a prestigious international security conference. The conference was attended by leading intelligence and medical officers. This year 32 countries were represented.
Williams was invited to present at the conference based on his team’s research findings: “Wanting sex and willing to kill: Examining demographic and cognitive characteristics of violent involuntary celibates” and “Extreme Sex-Negativity: An Examination of Helplessness, Hopelessness, and Misattribution of Blame Among “Incel” Multiple Homicide Offenders,” which were published in the journals Behavioral Sciences & the Law and the Journal of Positive Sexuality, respectively.
Williams’ research team included Michael Arntfield (Western University, Canada), Kaleigh Schaal (Northwestern University), and Jolene Vincent (Troy University).
Williams was a main speaker at the invitation-only event. During the conference, presenters discussed new cases, emerging research, and assessing security threats and risk.
Williams explains his work and research interests as exploring how people use crime as a form of leisure.
“I’m at the intersection of forensic sciences, sexuality, and leisure,” Williams says. “It was great to be in London. Our work was very well received.”
Williams says that this project was his most emotionally difficult research to date. The team went through media, police reports, interviews, and social media accounts with the goal of identifying thinking patterns and psychological traits. They discovered that there was a certain cluster of distorted thinking patterns common across the sample.
Williams hopes that his teams’ research can contribute to reducing crime. He sees a possibility for individuals to get intervention and help before violent acts are committed. He also says that the research is dispelling stereotypes of fear.
“We don’t want to stigmatize people,” he said. “Many of the online incel community appear to be shy, have social anxiety, and have past experiences of being bullied.
"The problem is when an individual has a certain cluster of thinking patterns that was discovered in the study, along with extreme feelings of helplessness and hopelessness, anger, and revenge.”