According to an expert on morbid curiosity, watching true crime shows can help you prepare if you find yourself in a similar situation.
Coltan Scrivner, a research scientist at Recreational Fear Lab and an expert in morbid curiosity, thinks there’s an almost primary reason people are endlessly fascinated with true crime content.
The true crime phenomenon shows no signs of slowing down, with documentaries, podcasts, dramatizations and all kinds of content available on all platforms. High-profile examples include Series, Making a Killer And Tiger king.
According to Scrivner, the morbid curiosity about dangerous people probably started about 300,000 years ago when humans started using language and started proactive rather than reactive aggression.
“This poses a problem for people because with proactive aggression, it’s hard to tell who is planning to harm you,” says Scrivner. “So this put a selection pressure on our minds to learn to look for information about people who are potentially dangerous.
“True crime can have a learning component or at least a perceived learning component. We feel that we are better prepared in these situations. So when this dangerous situation arises, you feel a little more prepared and you know what to do or not to do.”
This claim is supported by research data collected by OnePoll. The new survey of 2,000 self-reported true crime fans found that 76 percent believe that consuming true crime content helps them avoid similar situations.
The average respondent watches five true crime shows each month, with 75 percent saying they watch the latest show as soon as it’s released and 71 percent typically binge-watch the entire show at once.
The survey also found that 44 percent of respondents admit to having a “favorite” serial killer and 67 percent would like the chance to chat with a serial killer.
More than seven in ten respondents (71 percent) also admit to feeling less trustworthy by other people because of the amount of true crime content they consume.
But can watching too much violent crime content make someone more likely to commit a violent crime? Scrivener sees no connection.
“So there are differences between becoming desensitized to seeing graphic content on your television and being okay with graphic content happening around you. A good example of this is the research into violent video games over the past 20 years,” continues Scrivner.
“It was a big deal because people were concerned that as video games became more realistic and as the violence became more realistic, children in particular would become more violent.
“But the research is pretty clear right now that playing violent video games doesn’t make kids more violent. I’m pretty sure the same goes for something like true crime, where watching true crime doesn’t make you less empathetic towards the victims or more empathetic towards the killer or something like that.
“It may have some psychological effects, but it’s very unlikely to have any effects along those lines.”