Obsessed with true crime? Here is what it says about your personality

Can't stop watching true crime documentaries or listening to podcasts about gruesome murders? Your preferences could say a lot about your personality.

Obsessed with true crime? Here is what it says about you
© Malachi Brooks / Unsplash
Obsessed with true crime? Here is what it says about you

Who has never stopped at the sight of a car accident? Is it voyeurism? Or is it just basic human curiosity? Once a hidden, guilty pleasure for many, the true crime genre has become a socially accepted interest. Let's dig into the reasons for such a growing popularity.

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From guilty pleasure to popular genre

In the last few years, we have seen a significant increase in popularity around true crime documentaries and series, especially in the US. It seems that Americans love finding out juicy details about gruesome crimes committed by seemingly charming serial killers or con artists. This could explain the popularity of the Dahmer series or the Ted Bundy film on Netflix.

The true crime genre was popularized in 1966 by Truman Capote's book entitled In Cold Blood. The genre has now become a pop culture phenomenon, as growing numbers of series, documentaries and podcasts come out each month all over the world. More and more serial killers or con artists get their own television show or podcast.

The trend has even reached the field of comedy, with the popular Saturday Night Live show making its very own true crime series called Murder Show.

Adweek has observed a 'dramatic increase' in interest in the true crime genre since 2021. Our obsession with the genre has even inspired the Amazon Prime Video series Only Murders in the Building, starring Selena Gomez, Martin Short and Steve Martin. In the series, neighbours obsessed with true crime use detectives' techniques they saw on TV to try and solve a murder which happened in their building.

Read more:True-crime series could increase your risk of this scary sleep condition, research shows

What loving true crime says about your personality

We could have several reasons for liking the true crime genre. First of all, we could want to escape reality, and entertain our morbid curiosity.

According to DigitalTrends, watching true crime stories could remind us that we are okay, because things could be much worse. Experts link it back to Freud's theory of schadenfreude: the pleasure of seeing someone else's suffering. It isn't always conscious, but we apparently like the idea that bad things are happening to someone else, and not us.

Read more:Monster: The series that depicted the Jeffrey Dahmer story is renewed for seasons 2 and 3

The benefits of true crime stories

Psychotherapist Kathleen Check argues that watching or listening to true crime stories has an upside: we get an insight inside the mind of an actual killer, 'thus, creating a psychological protective barrier.'

Another positive effect of immersing yourself in the true crime genre is representation. People who have gone through trauma themselves, can feel better by hearing others who have gone through the same traumatic events. It makes them realize they are not alone and therefore can possibly heal faster.

Read more:Paediatric nurse turned serial killer labelled ‘Angel of Death’ for allegedly murdering 60 babies

Setting boundaries for your mental health

Psychotherapist F. Diane Barth told NBC News about the importance of a healthy balance between true crime and lighter topics. It can be easy to fall into the true crime genre, but receiving images of violence and crime at a certain rate can become unhealthy for your mental health.

She also stresses the importance of setting personal boundaries and acknowledging your limits to avoid 'painful overstimulation'. She concludes:

If people’s boundaries — including the individuals featured in the shows — are respected and triggering material avoided by those who are consuming, these programs can actually be beneficial to the emotional well-being of individuals, groups and communities.

Read more:These actors have an uncanny resemblance to the serial killers they portrayed

Sources used:

Adweek: True Crime Has Quickly Become One of Netflix's Most Popular Genres

DigitalTrends: Why is America so obsessed with true crime?

NBCNews: Why do we love true crime — and is it healthy for us?

ScienceFocus: Why are we so obsessed with true crime?

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