This Is Why You’re So Obsessed With True Crime Shows

True crime shows are among the most highly watched television shows – and have been for several years. These shows tell the story of real victims and the hunt for their killer. Often, different shows will have a different approach to the case.

For example, Forensic Files primarily focuses on cases where forensic evidence played a key role in the apprehension of a suspect, and goes on to explain how the forensics tests went. 

Cold Case Files focuses on old cases, and how they’re solved (or not) based on new technology. Other shows tell the victim’s story through the eyes of police.

One thing they all have in common? They give a lot of detail into a subject that, for most people, is shrouded in mystery. But have you ever wondered why people are so obsessed with true crime shows? A social psychologist may have just given the world some very interesting insight into this phenomena. 

Why are people so obsessed with true crime shows?

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A social psychologist by the name of Amanda Vicary decided to do a study about why people are attracted to different types of violence. She began her research by reading tons of reviews on Amazon that were listed under books dealing with violence. This turned into a big question on why people were so attracted to true crime stories.

Vicary found that most people enjoyed learning about these crimes because it helped them feel more prepared. The population who statistically watched more true crime shows and read more books on the subject (discussed below) were at a higher risk of being a victim to a crime. By learning more about the different crimes, how they happened, and what allowed the crime to occur, these people felt more secure and prepared for the future. 

There have been other theories on the topic previously. Some believed that watching true violence serves as a way to build up a tolerance to things which are considered frightening. Others still believe that true crime shows feed into the thrill-seeking aspect of the human personality, or that people are generally obsessed with taboo topics covered in these types of shows. 

Who watches true crime shows most often?

During Vicary’s study, she found that books on war were most often reviewed by men, but women were far more likely to read books about true crime stories.

In particular, women were most interested in any books or shows which focused on understanding the mind of a criminal. Statistically, women are much more likely to become a victim of a violent crime versus men. This is believed to be the reason that they are much more interested in these types of shows.

Which are the most popular true crime shows?

We know that people are obsessed with crime shows, but which among the many are the most popular?

According to the popular voting site, Ranker, the most popular is Forensic Files, which first debuted on television way back in 1996. It is closely followed by Cold Case Files (debuted 1999) and Dateline NBC (debuted 1992). The top ten is finished out with The First 48, Homicide Hunter, Unsolved Mysteries, Snapped, Cold Justice, 48 Hours, and American Justice. 

What is most interesting about this ranked top ten list is that most of them have been on television for many years. The most recently debuted was Cold Justice, which aired for the first time in 2013. The oldest has had a much more impressive run – Unsolved Mysteries has been showing since 1987. It is closely followed by 48 Hours, which first aired in 1988.