Watching true crime shows could help prepare you if you find yourself in a similar situation, according to an expert on morbid curiosity.
Coltan Scrivner, a research scientist at Recreational Fear Lab and an expert on morbid curiosity, feels that there is almost a primary reason why people have an endless fascination with true crime.
The true crime phenomenon shows no sign of slowing down, with documentaries, podcasts, dramas and all kinds of content available on every platform. High profile examples include Serial, Making a Murderer and King Tiger.
According to Scrivner, morbid curiosity about dangerous people probably began 300,000 years ago when humans began to use language and engage in proactive attack instead of reactive aggression.
“Now this creates a problem for people because, with proactive aggression, it’s hard to tell who’s thinking of harming you,” says Scrivner. “So this put selection pressure on our minds to learn how to seek out information about potentially dangerous people.
“Real crime can have a learning component or at least a perceived learning component. We think we are more prepared in these situations. So if this dangerous situation were to happen, you feel a little more prepared and know what you should or shouldn’t do.”
Research data collected by OnePoll supports this claim. The new survey of 2,000 self-reported crime fans found that 76 percent feel that consuming real crime content helps them avoid similar situations.
The average respondent consumes five true crime programs each month, with 75 percent saying they watch the latest program the moment it’s released and 71 percent typically watching the whole thing in one sitting.
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 one.
More than seven in ten (71 per cent) also admit that they are less trusting of others because of the amount of true crime content they consume.
But could watching too much material about violent crime make you more likely to commit a violent crime? Scrivener doesn’t see a link.
“So there’s a difference between being desensitized to seeing graphic content on your TV and being okay with graphic content happening around you. A great example of this is the research on violent video games over the past 20 years,” Scrivner continued.
“It was a big move because people were concerned that as video games became more realistic and violence became more realistic, children, in particular, would become more violent.
“But the research is pretty clear at this point that playing violent video games doesn’t make kids more violent, I’d be pretty sure the same is true for something like real crime, where watching real crime doesn’t make you less sympathetic. towards the victims or more compassion towards the killer or anything like that.
“It could have some psychological effects but it’s very unlikely that it would have any.”