skip to primary navigationskip to content

Professor Manuel Eisner

Professor Manuel Eisner

Wolfson Professor of Criminology

Professor of Comparative & Developmental Criminology

Director of Violence Research Centre

Office Phone: +44 (0)1223 335374


I studied history at the University of Zurich and hold a PhD in sociology. I have published 15 authored or edited books and over 100 journal articles and book chapters in English, German, Spanish and French. My academic work revolves around the explanation of the causes, the consequences and the prevention of interpersonal violence across human societies. My research tries to contribute to the following questions: How can we describe and explain variation in levels of violence between societies and over the course of human history? What psychological and social mechanisms account for change and stability of violent behaviour over the life course? What combination of prevention, intervention and control is best suited to reduce interpersonal violence in different societies across the world?

I am a member of several editorial and advisory boards of academic journals and book series. I have also been working as an expert or co-author of reports with national governments, the World Health Organization, UNICEF, the World Bank and UNODC. I was awarded the Fellowship of the Society of Experimental Criminology and the Sellin-Glueck award by the American Society of Criminology. In 2014, I have organized, with the World Health Organization, the First Global Conference on Violence Reduction at the University of Cambridge.


Research Interests

Macro-level Comparative Violence Research

My macro-level research on interpersonal violence comprises, amongst others, an innovative study on levels of homicide across Europe over a period of over 800 years (see, e.g. "Long-Term Historical Trends in Violent Crime", Crime and Justice: A Review of Research, Vol. 30). This study has become a landmark in our knowledge on historical patterns of interpersonal violence. More particularly, I was first to conclusively demonstrate a long-term pattern of declining homicide across Europe and to empirically show geographic variations in these patterns. This research has had a profound impact on how sociologists and criminologists think about long-term trends in interpersonal violence and their relationship to the evolution of modern society. A recent study (From Swords to Words, 2014, Crime and Justice - A Review of Research) has put several hypotheses about the causes of the decline to more formal empirical tests. Studies with Prof Nivette (University of Utrecht) have examined the extent to which the legitimacy of the state is associated, at the macro level, with cross-national variation in homicide rates. This research is part of a larger research programme on the political and social determinants of cooperation and conflict in complex societies.


Developmental Research on the Causes of Aggression

I also work on researching the developmental causes of aggressive behavior, crime and delinquency. I am one of the principal investigators (with Dr Denis Ribaud, University of Zurich) of the Zurich Project on the Social Development of Children, z-proso, which is hosted by the Jacobs Centre for Productive Youth Development, University of Zurich. Z-proso is a longitudinal study that examines the social development of 1675 children who entered primary school in the City of Zurich in 2004. The study currently comprises seven main data collections at ages 7, 8, 9, 11, 13, 15, and 17. Its focus is on the dynamics of aggressive behavior, violent victimization, and attitudes and perceptions related to violence and aggression. The study population is highly ethnically mixed with over 65% of participants coming from families with a migration background.


The study pursues several research strands: Recent work with Murray (Journal of Child Psychology, 2016) has examined, for example, the comorbidity of aggressive behavior with other manifestations of psychopathology such as ADHD and depressive symptoms over the life course. Z-proso also specifically focuses on the dynamics of legal socialization during adolescence. Thus, work with Nivette, Ribeaud and Malti examined the developmental processes leading to legal cynicism as an important mechanism that facilitates violence and delinquency (a sense that one can take the law into one's own hands) during adolescence (Crime and Delinquency, 2015). Another research direction examines the mechanisms and events that affect change and stability in aggressive behavior over time. Our research with Averdijk, van Gelder and Ribeaud (Violence begets Violence, but how? Criminology, 2016, Vol 54:2), for example, has examined how change in decision-making processes due to victimization may account for the relationship between victimization and offending over time. Similarly, work led by Obsuth and published in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence (2016, with Murray, Malti, Sulger and Ribeaud) showed the strong influence of a supportive teacher-child relationship on subsequent declines in problem behavior including aggression.


Research on Violence Prevention

My academic work on violence prevention comprises primary experimental studies, meta-analyses that synthesize current knowledge in a given area, and work on policy factors that influence population-level reductions in interpersonal violence. Two universal prevention programmes were implemented as part of the z-proso study, and effects were assessed for up to seven years after the intervention. In the London Education and Inclusion Project (LEIP, 2013-2015) we evaluated an intervention aimed at promoting the social and communication skills of adolescents at a high risk of school exclusion. An ongoing meta-analysis (with Sara Valdebenito, Dr Maria Ttofi, Dr Alex Sutherland and Prof David Farrington) conducted for the Campbell collaboration examines the state of knowledge about interventions that can reduce school exclusions. A recent study, finally, in the Journal of Public Health Policy examines, at a cross-national level, what can be learned from international crime drop in recent time for the programming of prevention strategies at the national level.


Ph.D. Students

Students who consider applying for a PhD under my supervision should contact me by email with a short summary of their research proposal before submitting an application. I mainly supervise doctoral theses that use a quantitative approach in the following areas:

  • History of violence research
  • Causes of aggression and violence
  • Prevention and intervention research
  • International research on micro and macro-level predictors of violence.

There may be possibilities to conduct a Ph.D. related to one of my on-going research projects. Please contact me for further information.

Key Publications


  • Averdijk, M., Van Gelder, J. L., Eisner, M., & Ribeaud, D. (2016). Violence begets violence, but how? A decision making perspective on the victim-offender overlap. Criminology. Online First. DOI: 10.1111/1745-9125.12102

  • Obsuth I, Cope A, Sutherland A, Pilbeam L, Murray AL, Eisner M (2016) London Education and Inclusion Project (LEIP): Exploring Negative and Null Effects of a Cluster-Randomised School-Intervention to Reduce School Exclusion - Findings from Protocol-Based Subgroup Analyses. PloS one 11(4):e0152423.

  • *Murray, A. L., Obsuth, I., Eisner, M., & Ribeaud, D. (2016). Shaping aggressive personality in adolescence: Exploring cross-lagged relations between aggressive thoughts, aggressive behaviour and self-control. Personality and Individual Differences, 97, 1-7.

  • *Murray AL, Eisner M, Ribeaud D (2016) The Development of the General Factor of Psychopathology 'p Factor' Through Childhood and Adolescence. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology: 1-14.

  • *Averdijk M, Malti T, Eisner M, Ribeaud D, Farrington DP (2016) A Vicious Cycle of Peer Victimization? Problem Behavior Mediates Stability in Peer Victimization Over Time. Journal of Developmental and Life-Course Criminology, 1-20.

  • *Averdijk M, Zirk-Sadowski J, Ribeaud D, Eisner M (2016) Long-term effects of two childhood psychosocial interventions on adolescent delinquency, substance use, and antisocial behavior: a cluster randomized controlled trial. Journal of Experimental Criminology:1-27.

  • *van Gelder J-L, Averdijk M, Eisner M, Ribaud D (2015) Unpacking the Victim-Offender Overlap: On Role Differentiation and Socio-psychological Characteristics. Journal of Quantitative Criminology, 31(4), 653-75.

  • Eisner M, Humphreys DK, Wilson P, Gardner F (2015) Disclosure of Financial Conflicts of Interests in Interventions to Improve Child Psychosocial Health: A Cross-Sectional Study. PloS one 10(11):e0142803.

  • Valdebenito, S., Ttofi, M., & Eisner, M. (2015). Prevalence rates of drug use among school bullies and victims: A systematic review and meta-analysis of cross-sectional studies. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 23(4), 137-146. doi:10.1016/j.avb.2015.05.004

  • Cui, L., Colasante, T., Malti, T., Ribeaud, D., & Eisner, M. P. (2015). Dual trajectories of reactive and proactive aggression from mid-childhood to early adolescence: relations to sensation seeking, risk taking, and moral reasoning. Journal of abnormal child psychology , 1-13.

  • *Malti, T., Averdijk, M., Zuffianò, A., Ribeaud, D., Betts, L. R., Rotenberg, K. J., & Eisner, M. P. (2015). Children's trust and the development of prosocial behavior. International Journal of Behavioral Development, doi: 10.1177/0165025415584628

  • *Ribeaud, D., & Eisner, M. (2015). The Nature of the Association Between Moral Neutralization and Aggression: A Systematic Test of Causality in Early Adolescence. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 61(1), 68-84. doi:10.13110/merrpalmquar1982.61.1.0068

  • Eisner, M. (2014). From Swords to Words: Does Macro-Level Change in Self-Control Predict Long-Term Variation in Levels of Homicide?. Crime and Justice, 43(1), 65-134. doi: 10.1086/677662

  • *Obsuth, I., Eisner, M. P., Malti, T., & Ribeaud, D. (2015). The developmental relation between aggressive behaviour and prosocial behaviour: A 5-year longitudinal study. BMC psychology, 3(1), 16.

  • Obsuth, I., Sutherland, A., Pilbeam, L., Scott, S., Valdebenito, S., Carr, R., & Eisner, M. (2014). London Education and Inclusion Project (LEIP): a cluster-randomised controlled trial protocol of an intervention to reduce antisocial behaviour and improve educational/occupational attainment for pupils at risk of school exclusion. BMC Psychology, 2 (2014), 24.

  • Mueller-Johnson, K., Eisner, M. P., & Obsuth, I. (2014). Sexual Victimization of Youth With a Physical Disability An Examination of Prevalence Rates, and Risk and Protective Factors. Journal of interpersonal violence, 29(17), 3180-206. doi: 10.1177/0886260514534529

  • *Averdijk, M., Eisner, M., & Ribeaud, D. (2014). Do Social Relationships Protect Victimized Children Against Internalizing Problems? Journal of School Violence, 13(2014), 80-99.

  • *Nivette, A. E., Eisner, M., Malti, T., & Ribeaud, D. (2014). Sex differences in aggression among children of low and high gender inequality backgrounds: A comparison of gender role and sexual selection theories. Aggressive behavior, 40(5), 451-464. DOI: 10.1002/ab.21530

  • Eisner, M. and L. Ghuneim (2013). Honor Killing Attitudes amongst Adolescents in Amman, Jordan, Aggressive Behavior, 39(5), 405-417. doi: 10.1002/ab.21485

  • Humphreys, David and Manuel Eisner (2013). Evaluating the Impact of Flexible Alcohol Trading Hours on Violence: An Interrupted Time Series Analysis, PLoS One, 8(2): e55581. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0055581

  • Averdijk, M, M. Eisner, D. Ribeaud (2013). Method effects in survey questions about peer victimization , in: Ruiter, S., Bernasco, W., Huisman, W. & Bruinsma, G. (Eds.) (2013). Eenvoud en verscheidenheid: Liber amicorum voor Henk Elffers [Simplicity and Diversity; Festschrift for Henk Elffers]. Amsterdam: NSCR & Afdeling Criminologie Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. 559 pages. ISBN 978-90-902-7706-6.

  • Eisner, Manuel and Amy Nivette (2013) Does Low Legitimacy Cause Crime? A Review of the Evidence (Violence Research Centre Working Paper, final version to appear in Tankebe, J. and Liebling, A. (eds.), Legitimacy and Criminal Justice: An International Exploration. Oxford University Press.)

  • Eisner, Manuel and Amy Nivette (2012) How to Reduce the Global Homicide Rate to 2 per 100,000 by 2060 , in: Loeber, Rolf, and Walsh, Brandon C. (eds.). The Future of Criminology. New York: Oxford University Press, p 219-228.

  • Eisner,Manuel (2012) What Causes Large-scale Variation in Homicide Rates? (Working Paper, July 2012) Final revised version to be published in in Heinze, Juergen and Kortuem, Henning (eds.) Aggression in Humans and Primates. Berlin: de Gruyter.

  • Eisner, Manuel & David Humphreys (2012) Measuring Conflict of Interest in Prevention and Intervention Research - A Feasibility Study (draft). Final version published in: T. Bliesener, A. Beelmann & M. Stemmler (eds.), Antisocial behavior and crime. Contributions of developmental and evaluation research to prevention and intervention. Göttingen, London: Hogrefe International.

  • Averdijk, M., Malti, T., Ribeaud, D., & Eisner, M.P. (2012). Parental separation and child aggressive and internalizing behavior: An event history calendar analysis . Child Psychiatry and Human Development, 43(2), 184-200. doi: 10.1007/s10578-011-0259-9

  • Averdijk, Margit, Katrin Mueller-Johnson & Manuel Eisner (2011). Sexual Victimization of Children and Adolescents in Switzerland; Final Report to the UBS Optimus Foundation . Zurich: Optimus Foundation.

  • Malti, T., Ribeaud, D., & Eisner, M.P. (2011). The effects of two universal preventive interventions to reduce children's externalizing behavior: A cluster-randomized controlled trial . Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, 40(5), 677-692.

  • Averdijk, M., Malti, T., Ribeaud, D., & Eisner, M.P. (2011). Trajectories of aggressive behaviour and children's social-cognitive development . International Journal of Developmental Science, 5,103-111. doi: 10.3233/DEV-2011-10067

  • Eisner, Manuel (2009) The Uses of Violence: An Examination of Some Cross-Cutting Issues International Journal of Conflict and Violence, 3(1), 40-59.

  • Eisner, Manuel (2008) Modernity Strikes Back? A Historical Perspective on the Latest Increase in Interpersonal Violence (1960-1990). International Journal of Conflict and Violence, 2(2) 288-316