Be it binging on true crime documentaries or trying to get in the head of a fictional killer, psychologists are claiming that doing it has an evolutionary benefit!
Do you often find yourself obsessing over serial killers? Did you watch Netflix's Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes with utmost fascination? Did Joe Goldberg from You keep you glued to your screen?
Are slasher movies and true crime documentaries your all-time guilty pleasure? If your answer to any of the above questions is yes, then you'd be glad to know that there's nothing wrong with you. In fact, there's a reason why you do that - you have a higher functioning brain!
Dr. Marissa Harrison, associate professor of psychology at Penn State Harrisburg, has revealed that people who are fascinated by serial killers and love watching crime shows have an evolutionary benefit over the others.
When you watch these movies and shows inspired by real events, your brain pays close attention to the details and helps you prepare for the worst. It helps your body to evolve.
"You would pay attention to, and have interest in, the horrific, because in the ancestral environment, those who ‘tuned in’ to horrible events left more descendants, logically because they were able to escape harmful stimuli,” she told Hopes & Fears.
The famous criminologist also added that most people find themselves attracted to the dark side as it helps them step in the shoes of a killer from a safe side and understand their thought process.
A recent study also found that more women are attracted to crime, serial killers, and murder mysteries when compared to men and the reason isn't what you might think - it is because watching true crime helps them learn and understand what they should be doing and what not in case they ever find themselves in similar situations.
Amanda Vicary, the study's lead author, told the Huffington Post that “by learning about murders—who is more likely to be a murderer, how do these crimes happen, who are the victims, etc.—people are also learning about ways to prevent becoming a victim themselves.”
Not only that, watching these shows, documentaries, and movies help us get a better grip on our emotions. People who are fascinated by serial killers and true crime are able to understand other people and their feelings better. When you watch a serial killer kill people, you feel relieved that the victim is not YOU but you feel sad for them.
Dr. Sharon Packer says it is not 'sadistic' but only human. "If bad faith had to fall on someone, at least it fell on someone else,” she told Decider. “There’s a sense of relief in finding out that it happened to someone else rather than you.” Now you know why it feels GOOD to watch, you know what. It helps you get rid of stress.
On the other hand, it also evokes feelings of empathy. Dr. Michael Mantell, former chief psychologist of the San Diego Police Department says, "It allows us to feel our compassion, not only compassion for the victim but sometimes compassion for the perpetrator.”
He also revealed why serial killers and mysteries are everyone's guilty pleasure, "We all get angry at people, and many people say ‘I could kill them’ but almost no one does that, thankfully. But then when you see it on screen, you say, ‘Oh someone had to kill someone, it wasn’t me, thank God.’ [There is] that same sense of relief that whatever kinds of aggression and impulses one has, we didn’t act on them; someone else did.”
And of course, these shows and movies with twisted storylines challenge our brain to solve the mystery before THEY reveal it, hence stimulating and exercising our brain. You get to play detective in your head and well, not only is that super awesome, but it also makes you the smartest person in the room.
Plus, truly terrifying stories give us an adrenaline rush which keeps us all horror and crime lovers hooked! Who is your favorite serial killer? Don't worry, I won't tell anyone.
I’m not normal I love watching tv programs about serial killers I just find them so interesting especially Ted bundy— Royal Alice Rinderette 😘😘😘😘😊😊 (@WoodhouseAlice) July 4, 2019
I love watching shows about serial killers before bed and then my ass can’t sleep 😩— geemilfin’ (@geemilfin) July 2, 2019
I love serial killers... so sick and twisted... I’m not saying it’s right but I understand the fascination.— G. (@goretty_225) June 30, 2019
I love serial killers and documentaries hahaha is that weird? I guess I’m just not like most girls hahaha— Gigi Vigorito (@gigi_vigorito) June 14, 2019
Re-reading YOU by Caroline Kepnes, this time on audio. I love this series and I love horrific hilarious psychopath Joe Goldberg.— kate 👻 (@ElphaReads) May 8, 2017