Why is true crime so addicting?

By: Ella Tabor

True crime is compelling to many, but why? Why do so many people obsess over this genre?

Image taken from:
Right as rain by UW Medicine: https://rightasrain.uwmedicine.org/life/leisure/true-crime

According to a clinical and forensic psychologist, Paula. E. Bruce, “True-crime shows are compelling to many because they can provide a window into a reality that we do not readily have access to.”

Since the genre focuses heavily on female victims; it’s not surprising that more women are enthralled by true crime. This is no coincidence given women are more likely to relate to the possibility of being a victim.

Psychology professor Kareem Johnson notes that the violent content we are most likely to enjoy corresponds with the type most likely to affect us.

Dr. Bruce relates the fascination with this gore as a way of preparing ourselves for these situations. She says, “…There is some relief in being able to visualize how a personal trauma could happen…”.

Also, to those who have been personal victims of violent crimes, true crime may provide a sense of validation. These victims can feel relief in knowing their situation could have been worse.

True crime entices many of our curiosities and fears. The fear of how irrational these acts are makes us want to understand why these criminals, who commit such unthinkable crimes, do what they do.

Scott Bonn, Phd, criminologist and author of ‘Why We Love Serial Killers: The Curious Appeal of the Worlds Most Savage Murderers’, says, “If we can’t understand why these killers do what they do, that fear is never abated”.

True crime and other horror genres provide us a safe distanced window into these fears and curiosities without having to experience them, which is a large reason why this genre is so addicting.

According to Dr. Bruce, compulsive obsessions with true crime may be cause for concern but simply enjoying the thrill and solving the mysteries is no problem.

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