Why are women so obsessed with true crime?

If you’re anything like me, you love nothing more than firing up Netflix and streaming the hell out of the new murder documentary that everyone and their nail tech has been talking about.

It’s well known that humans are drawn to a spectacle. You know that feeling you get when you pass an accident on the motorway and you can’t help checking out the scene, even though you don’t actually want to see anything horrific? That’s also why we love watching serial killers. Apparently learning about the details of their crimes gives us the same feeling.

It’s weird, but it’s human.

Then I read somewhere that more women are actually interested in true crime than men… Now technically they were talking about books, but it still made me think.

I am 100000% more fascinated by murderers than my husband, and I know a hell of a lot more women who talk about the documentaries than men. Now this may be because I talk to more women than men generally, but my interest was definitely piqued.

So why do us ladies seem to have such a grim fascination with the morbid? Are we all secret psychopaths waiting for the perfect opportunity to top our spouses?

I could only find the one study about women being more interested in true crime specifically, so I definitely think there’s room for more studies to be done, BUT here’s what I learnt…

Men are more likely to be the victims of violent crimes and murder than women. In the United Kingdom alone, around 70% of homicide victims are male. Worldwide, 78.7% of homicide victims are male, and in 193 of the 202 countries and regions listed in a report conducted by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, men were more likely than women to be killed.

Okay, so if we are much less likely to be victims, then why the hell are we more fascinated by it?!

The study tested the likelihood of men and women choosing a true crime book if an “escape trick” was included in the summary vs a true crime book where there was no mention of a clever trick.

The results showed that although men were also more likely to select the book that contained the manipulation, this difference was not as large as it was for women. In total, 71% of female participants chose the book that mentioned the trick, but only 66% of men chose the same book.

The study then went on to find out whether the women were more interested in books that included the killers motives for carrying out their crimes. They found that 65% of women chose the book that contained information on motives, demonstrating its significance to female readers.

So it turns out we are more drawn to true crime tales that contain tips on how to defend ourselves, how to escape from potential attackers, and what warning signs to look out for in our lovers and friends, because we want to learn what to do to in case we end up being the subject of the next hit show.

We’re all secretly watching these documentaries to educate ourselves. They make us feel bloody prepared! Hilarious. I do often find myself thinking about what I would have done differently if I was the victim, but I didn’t think I was subconsciously trying to avoid an untimely end myself.

I also found it fascinating that the study suggested we might all be stuck in a bit of a fear cycle.

Women fear violent crimes more than men do, and despite the fact that we enjoy reading and watching books about true crime because they help us learn survival tips, the shows and stories may actually be increasing the very fear that drives us towards them in the first place.

A woman fears becoming the victim of a crime, so, consciously or unconsciously, 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 murderer and his victims, thereby increasing her awareness and fear of crime.

They can’t say for sure this is happening, of course, but it sounds pretty compelling.

Now I think in actuality, watching The Staircase and Conversations With A Killer probably won’t really help me if I find myself in the presence of a psycho who has eyes only for me, but it’s nice to know that although inner Katie is scared, she’s still trying her best to reach Unagi.

(If you don’t know what Unagi is, then have a word with yourself and watch Friends season 6, episode 17)