Captured by true crime: Why women are drawn to tales of rape, murder, and serial killers

From Social Psychological and Personality Science

Men are more likely to commit crimes and are responsible for 90% of all murders so why are women more drawn to true crime books than men? Researchers reveal that women fear becoming the victim of a crime more so than men and are often compelled to this literature with the aim of being alert to warning signs and learning strategies to prevent or survive a real life crime.  This sex difference in fear is interesting because actually men are more likely than women to be the victim. The article considers some of the reasons for this heightened fear among women and recognises that the pursuit for survival tips from these books can in itself contribute to greater fear of such crime.

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The true crime genre, which consists of nonfiction books based on gruesome topics such as rape and murder, has amassed an extensive audience. Many people might assume that men, being the more aggressive sex, would be most likely to find such gory topics interesting. But a perusal of published reader reviews suggests that women enjoy these kinds of books more so than do men. The purpose of this research was to shed light on this apparent paradox. In Studies 1 and 2, the authors conducted a study of reader reviews and a study of book choices that demonstrated that, in fact, women are more drawn to true crime stories whereas men are more attracted to other violent genres. In Studies 3 to 5, the authors manipulated various characteristics of true crime stories to determine which features women find appealing. The authors discuss the findings in light of contemporary evolutionary perspectives on aggression and murder.

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Article information

Title: Captured by True Crime: Why Are Women Drawn to Tales of Rape, Murder, and Serial Killers?

Authors: Amanda M. Vicary and R. Chris Fraley

From: Social Psychological and Personality Science 1(1) 81-86

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