The Prometheus Complex - Striving for competence

Renée Perrin-Wallqvist

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis (compilation)


The purpose of the present investigations was to obtain a more comprehensive view of fire setting by children and adolescents; to explore the prevalence of the phenomenon; whether or not it experimentally may be related to frustration or boredom and to examine the role of personality traits such as optimism, pessimism and creativity. This dissertation consists of two experimental and two interview studies. Paper I presents the result from two interview studies reporting that playing with fire is a common phenomenon among children. Male participants reported playing with fire in 70 % of the cases and in the female group the amount was 44 %. Motives for fireplay were curiosity and distraction in the male group and excitement and amusement seeking in the female group. The results achieved in the experimental study as reported in Paper II indicate that frustration increases the probability of initiating fire but that alcohol does not exacerbate this tendency. Boredom seems to increase the probability of fantasizing about starting fires as described in Paper III which is an experimental study investigating boredom in relation to personality variables. In Paper IV, a phenomenological investigation describes and analyses the fascination people have for fire. The study yielded three perspectives describing the meaning of fire for the individual: Fire from a fire fighter perspective, fireplay and power and control. Phenomenological reduction led to conclusions that the attitude to fire is both rational and irrational and that respect as well as fascination is felt in front of a burning fire.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Department of Psychology
  • Rydén, Olof, Supervisor
  • Norlander, Torsten, Supervisor, External person
Award date2006 Feb 3
Print ISBNs91-628-6719-9
Publication statusPublished - 2006

Bibliographical note

Defence details

Date: 2006-02-03
Time: 10:00
Place: "Nya Fest", AF-borgen, Sandgatan 2, Lund

External reviewer(s)

Name: Hwang, Philip
Title: Prof.
Affiliation: Psykologiska institutionen, Göteborgs universitet


<div class="article_info">R. Perrin-Wallqvist and T. Norlander. <span class="article_issue_date">2003</span>. <span class="article_title">Firesetting and playing with fire during childhood and adolescence: Interview studies of 18-year- old male draftees and 18-19-year- old female pupils.</span> <span class="journal_series_title">Legal and Criminological Psychology</span>, <span class="journal_pages">pp 151-157</span>.</div>
<div class="article_info">R. Perrin-Wallqvist, L. Eriksson and T. Norlander. <span class="article_issue_date">2001</span>. <span class="article_title">The effects of alcohol intake and induced frustration on the disposition to start fire.</span> <span class="journal_series_title">Social Behavior and Personality</span>, <span class="journal_pages">pp 547-556</span>.</div>
<div class="article_info">R. Perrin-Wallqvist, T. Archer and T. Norlander. <span class="article_issue_date">2004</span>. <span class="article_title">Adolescents´ firesetting awareness under boredom: relation to personality variables.</span> <span class="journal_series_title">Psychological Reports</span>, <span class="journal_pages">pp 863-871</span>.</div>
<div class="article_info">R. Perrin-Wallqvist. <span class="article_issue_date"></span>. <span class="article_title">Fire from a life world perspective – a phenomenological study</span> (submitted)</div>

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Psychology


  • Childhood
  • Fire setting
  • Adolescence
  • Psychology
  • Psykologi
  • Development psychology
  • Utvecklingspsykologi


Dive into the research topics of 'The Prometheus Complex - Striving for competence'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this