Richard Felson

Richard Felson
Professor of Criminology and Sociology

Curriculum Vitae


Ph.D., Sociology, Indiana University 1977

Professional Bio

Research Interests

Most of my research is concerned with the social psychology of violence.  I am interested in the role of alcohol, guns, and other situational factors in violence, and in why verbal disputes become violent.  I also study motives for sexual assault and inmate partner violence and whether violence involving men and women is different.  Finally, I am interested in race, regional, and national differences in violence.

Research Projects

My current research projects address the following questions:  Why are offenders more likely to experience victimization than nonviolent offenders?  For example, are offenders more likely to be victimized because they behave more aggressively during their verbal disputes?  What are the risk factors for childhood sexual abuse and how do children respond when it occurs?  Are rape victims assigned more blame than other victims?    How have the characteristics of state inmates changed with the advent of mass incarceration?   Does alcohol have a causal effect on adolescent sexual behavior or is the relationship spurious?  Why did homicide increase during the Gold Rush in California?

Professional and Scholarly Awards and Achievements

Funding: Situational Factors and the Victim-Offender Overlap. With Mark Berg.  National Institute of Justice, 2013-2016.  Police Intervention and Repeat Offending in Domestic Assault.”  National Institute of Justice, 2002. Neighborhoods and Situational Factors in Violence.  With Julie Horney, Janet Laureston, and Eric Baumer.  National Consortium on Violence Research.  1999-2000.  Sex, Self-Appraisals and Performance in Mathematics.  National Science Foundation.  1985-1988.  Children's Self-concept in Relation to Appraisals of Parents, Teachers, Peers and Performance.  National Science Foundation.  1983-1985.  Assessing Situational Factors in Violent Behavior.  With H. Steadman.  National Institute of Mental Health.  1979-1981.  Race, Social Context and Adolescent Violence.  National Consortium on Violence Research.  1998.

Editorial boards: Criminology (two terms); Social Psychology Quarterly (three terms),  Replications in Social Psychology, Self and Identity; Partner Violence.

Council Member, and Chair of various committees, Social Psychology Section, American Sociological Association, 1988-91.

Selected Publications

  • Richard B. Felson and Patrick Cundiff*.  2013, Sexual Assault as a Crime Against Young People.  Archives of Sexual Behavior.Richard B. Felson, Patrick Cundiff* and Noah Painter-Davis*. 2012.
  • Richard B. Felson. 2012 “Back to Basics: Gender and the Social Psychology of Aggression.”  forthcoming in The Oxford Handbook of Gender, Sex, and Crime. Edited by R. Gartner and B. McCarthy New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Richard B. Felson and Patrick Cundiff*. 2012 “Age and Sexual Assault During Robberies.”   Evolution and Human Behavior, 33, 10-16.
  • Richard B. Felson and Kelsea Jo Lane. 2010. “Does Violence Involving Women and Intimate Partners have a Special Etiology?”  Criminology. 48: 201-218.
  • Richard B. Felson and Paul-Philippe Paré. 2010. “Gun Cultures or Honor cultures?: Explaining Regional and Race differences in Weapon Carrying.”   Social Forces. 88:1357-1377.
  • Richard B. Felson and Paul-Philippe Paré. 2010. “Firearms and Fisticuffs: Region, Race, and Adversary Effects on Homicide and Assault.”   Social Science Research. 39:272-284.
  • Richard B. Felson, Glenn Deane, and David P. Armstrong. 2008 “Do Theories of Crime or Violence Explain Race Differences in Delinquency.” Social Science Research. 37 624–641.
  • Richard B. Felson, Jukka Savolainen, Mikko Aaltonen, and Heta Moustgaard. 2008. “Is the Association between Alcohol Use and Delinquency Causal or Spurious?” Criminology. 46: 301-324.
  • Richard B. Felson and Jeremy Staff. 2006. “Explaining the Academic Performance-Delinquency Relationship." Criminology, 44: 229-320.
  • Richard B. Felson. 2006. “Is Violence Against Women About Women or About Violence?” Contexts Magazine, vol. 5, issue 2.
  • Richard B. Felson and Paul-Philippe Paré. 2005. “The Reporting of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault by Nonstrangers to the Police” Journal of Marriage and Family, August, 67 (3): 597-610.
  • Richard B. Felson, Jeff Ackerman, and Catherine Gallagher. 2005. “Police Intervention and the Repeat of Domestic Violence.” Criminology, August, 43 (3): 563-588.
  • Richard B. Felson and Alison C. Cares. 2005. “Gender and the Seriousness of Assaults on Intimate Partners and Other Victims.” Journal of Marriage and Family, December 67: 1182-1195.
  • Richard B. Felson and Keri Burchfield. 2004. “Alcohol and the Risk of Physical and Sexual Assault Victimizations.” Criminology, November 42 (4):837-858.
  • Richard B. Felson, Jeff Ackerman and Seong-Jin Yeon. 2003. “The (In)frequency of Family Violence.” Journal of Marriage and Family. 65(3):622-634.
  • Richard B. Felson and Dana Haynie. 2002. “Pubertal development, Social Factors and Delinquency among Adolescent Boys.” Criminology 40: 967-988.
  • Richard B. Felson. 2002.  Violence and Gender Reexamined. American Psychological Association.
  • Richard B. Felson, Steven F. Messner, Anthony Hoskin and Glenn Deane.  2002. “Reasons for Reporting and not Reporting Violence to the Police.”  Criminology 40:617-648.
  • Richard B. Felson and Jeff Ackerman. 2001.  “Arrest for Domestic and Other Assaults.”  Criminology 39:655-676.
  • Richard B. Felson and Steven F. Messner. 2000.  “The Control Motive in Intimate Partner Violence.”  Social Psychology Quarterly. 63 (March): 86-94.
  • Richard B. Felson and Steven F. Messner.  1999.  “The Victim-Offender Relationship and Calling the Police in Assaults.”  Criminology 37 (Septermber): 901-917.
  • Richard B. Felson and Steven F. Messner. 1998.  “Disentangling the Effects of Gender and Intimacy on Victim-Precipitation in Homicide.”  Criminology 36: 405-424.
  • Richard B. Felson.  1996. "Big People Hit Little People:  Sex differences in physical power and interpersonal violence."  Criminology August 34: 433-452.
  • Richard B. Felson.  1996.  "Mass Media Effects on Violent Behavior."  Annual Review of Sociology Volume 22: 103-128.
  • Richard B. Felson & Steven F. Messner.  1996.  “To Kill or Not to Kill?: Lethal Outcomes in Injurious Attacks.”  Criminology November 34: 201-227.
  • James Tedeschi and Richard B. Felson.  1994.  Violence, Aggression, and Coercive Actions.  American Psychological Association.

If you are interested in purchasing Dr. Felson's most recent book on violence
(Violence and Gender Reexamined), go to the following website:

His earlier books on violence are available at the following website:

Research Interests by Concentration


Social psychology of violence; race, regional, and national differences in violence

Family and Relationships

Social psychology of violence; race, regional, and national differences in violence
Richard Felson
(814) 865-8797
1012 Oswald Tower University Park , PA 16802
Mailroom: 203 Oswald Tower