Why Are We So Fascinated With True Crime Stories?

Some time ago, when I was employed at a job that was utterly boring, I discovered a website that contained a warehouse of these fascinating true crime stories that I was drawn to. For almost a year after that, my life wasn’t the same. Every time I found myself with little to do, I would visit that site and literally spend hours reading true crime stories. I must admit, even now, once in a while when I feel like a good read and a reminder of how human kind can be so utterly inhuman to one another, I go there and grab a story or two.

Why is the human mind so fascinated by a true crime story? You all remember the OJ Simpson case – it broke records on many fronts, one being that it was watched by millions and millions of people for endless days. It didn’t matter what race they came from, religious affiliation, social background – we were all spell-bound. Why? What makes the human mind seek and cling to facts about a gruesome murder or a rape or a ritual killing with such tenacity that they just can’t seem to let it go? It’s interesting that such stories are talked about for so long, they end up being legend – shows you that however old a true crime story is, it does not lose its flavor.

For years now, psychologists and criminologists have tried to explore it – why something so gruesome remains so fascinating, but so far, no one has yet to give solid reasons. They end up with best guesses and speculation, and some of those guesses are explored here:

1. Most people live a relatively mundane existence. Once something outside of that existence happens that is not only gruesome but violent, they take to it and stick with it because it is something out of their otherwise bored lives. You may, or may not agree with this, but it rings true to some extent. Take a slum in a poor country where violence is a way of existence. Fascination with crime is much less than in a quiet rural community that sees a crime once every 10 years.

2. It’s normal human psychology to want to know how someone did something criminal, and then immediately after that comes the question why. Some criminals will speak out and say why they did it, but this is on the rare occasion. Most of the time, the crime story grows more and more fascinating as people continue to speculate about why a crime was done.

3. Some experts say that humanity as a whole is seeking justice; in seeking justice, they seek to know all the details of a crime which in itself leads to great fascination with the crime itself.

4. There have been some arguments that people are fascinated to see just how far others will go, because it makes them feel good about themselves – they know they could never do something like that.

5. Some argue that there is a genuine fear in people that the same crime could happen to them, and so they want to arm their minds with the details in subconscious preparation were something similar to happen. The counter argument to this, however, is that in most violent crimes, the victims can do little or nothing to protect themselves, therefore this fascination cannot prepare you for defense should you be under attack.

6. And lastly of course, the media. Like everything else, media hypes crime events. It chases down every bit and morsel and shows you bloody scenes, chases and even bodies. Listen to or watch news broadcasts for a day, and you will most likely hear of 3 or 4 crimes. It does not matter any more where you are – you’ll see on TV how someone butchered his wife 5,000 miles away. If the media were to highlight crime less, perhaps society would be less aware of it and its fascination would somehow lessen.

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