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

January 12, 2010

Los Angeles, London, New Delhi, Singapore and Washington DC (January 12, 2010) Women are more drawn to true crime books than are men, according to research in the inaugural issue of Social Psychological and Personality Science (published by SAGE).

The true genre of nonfiction books is based on gruesome topics such as rape and murder. Many people might assume that men, being the more aggressive sex, would be most likely to find such gory topics interesting.

The researchers found that what makes these books appealing to women are relevant in terms of preventing or surviving a crime. For example, by understanding why an individual decides to kill, a woman can learn the warning signs to watch for in a jealous lover or . By learning escape tips women learn survival strategies they can use if actually kidnapped or held captive.

It is possible that reading these books may actually increase the very fear that drives women toward them in the first place. In other words, a vicious cycle may be occurring: A woman fears becoming the victim of a crime so she turns to true crime books in a possible effort to learn strategies and techniques to prevent becoming murdered. However, with each true crime book she reads, this woman learns about another and his victims, thereby increasing her awareness and fear of crime.

"It is not possible to state with certainty from these studies whether or not this vicious cycle occurs," write authors Amanda M. Vicary and R. Chris Fraley. "But we do know that women, compared to men, have a heightened fear of crime despite the fact that they are less likely to become a victim."

Explore further: Low Self-Esteem? Avoid Crime Novels With Surprise Endings

More information: The article "Captured by True Crime: Why Are Women Drawn to Tales of Rape, Murder, and Serial Killers?" in the inaugural issue of Social Psychological and Personality Science is available free for a limited time at spp.sagepub.com/cgi/reprint/1/1/81 .

Related Stories

Low Self-Esteem? Avoid Crime Novels With Surprise Endings

December 6, 2006

Not everyone enjoys a murder mystery with a surprise ending, new research suggests. People who have lower levels of self-esteem prefer crime and detective stories that confirm their suspicions in the end, while those with ...

Scientists study mystery stories

January 18, 2007

A U.S.-German study suggests people with lower levels of self-esteem prefer mystery crime stories that confirm their suspicions in the end.

Anti-gay hate crimes widespread

July 2, 2007

Nearly four in 10 gay men and about one in eight lesbians and bisexuals in the United States have been the target of violence or a property crime because of their sexual orientation, according to a new study by University ...

Girls' violence on the rise

September 24, 2009

The link between cyber-bullying and an increase in violence among young women will be featured in a new book published in November.

Recommended for you

Early human diet explains our eating habits

August 31, 2015

Much attention is being given to what people ate in the distant past as a guide to what we should eat today. Advocates of the claimed palaeodiet recommend that we should avoid carbohydrates and load our plates with red meat ...

Just how good (or bad) is the fossil record of dinosaurs?

August 28, 2015

Everyone is excited by discoveries of new dinosaurs – or indeed any new fossil species. But a key question for palaeontologists is 'just how good is the fossil record?' Do we know fifty per cent of the species of dinosaurs ...

Fractals patterns in a drummer's music

August 28, 2015

Fractal patterns are profoundly human – at least in music. This is one of the findings of a team headed by researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization in Göttingen and Harvard University ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.