True crime has infiltrated every aspect of media in recent years. But, humans have long been interested in the evil that exists within our very own communities.
PENNSYLVANIA, USA — Editor’s note: The above video is from Sept. 26.
True crime and modern media
Podcasts. Documentaries. Literature.
True crime has infiltrated every aspect of media in recent years. Podcasts like Crime Junkie have millions of followers on Spotify.
In the last few years, Ted Bundy’s crimes have somehow become even more infamous as Netflix has released both Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes, a documentary detailing how he did what he did for so long, as well as Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile, a more theatrical version of his crimes, starring Zac Efron.
There’s even a YouTube channel, “Murder, Mystery, and Makeup,” where host Bailey Sarian expertly shows how to apply winged eyeliner while simultaneously detailing the horrific crimes of some of America’s most notorious criminals.
But, humans have long been interested in the evil that exists within our very own communities. FOX43 spoke with several experts about why this is, and what determines the kinds of stories we pay attention to.
Why are people so fascinated with true crime?
Dr. Marissa Harrison, associate professor of psychology at Penn State Harrisburg, is a research psychologist, biological psychologist, and an evolutionary psychologist by training. She thinks that the interest in true crime is evolutionary.
“I think people are pre-programmed to pay attention to the things that could hurt us,” she said. “Interest in crime, and that which is dangerous, is basically natural because if we attend to these things, we can ensure our survival.”
Although this is one of the reasons why Dr. Harrison believes humans pay attention to true crime stories, she doesn’t believe we do it consciously. It’s innate, like most evolutionary urges. As she pointed out, humans have always survived because they have paid attention to and avoided the things that could hurt them. This is called “protective vigilance,” a term in psychology that basically means looking out for oneself.
Dr. Michael Mantell, a behavioral science authority and retired psychologist, as well as the former chief psychologist for the San Diego Police Department, agrees.
“This is …….