Fascination with crime is rising, and there may be psychological reasons why

Whether fascination begins with true crime or interest in a future career, it’s clear the trend is here to stay


Campbell Jensen from Unsplash

Some Americans actually overestimate the crime rate in the US. This is most likely due to the amount of media coverage of crime.

You typically see two main types of people when it comes to their fascination with crime: there are those who take their interest to another level by working in the forensic science field with careers like FBI specialists, forensic psychologists, and crime scene investigators. Then there are individuals who keep up with the latest crime cases themselves by watching the news, shows, and various documentaries.

But is it normal to be obsessed with crime?

Dr. Michael Mantell, a doctor who has served as Chief Psychologist at numerous institutes such as the San Diego Police Department and the Children’s Hospital of San Diego, said yes: “Humans love learning about other humans, and that’s normal.” Society in general gets fascinated about crime cases because it is an instinctive psychological trait for us as humans to seek out information that fills our morbid curiosity.

Psychologist Emma Kenny said, “The reason that people enjoy watching it isn’t because they’re voyeurs who want to think about the dark side of life. It’s that it’s such a stretch to imagine that kind of behavior existing in a human being that they’re fascinated.”

She said it is a result of humans trying to understand this incomprehensible behavior.

Often seen on TikTok or other social media platforms, individuals make videos diving deep into criminal cases and coming up with their own theories. The most recent case that appeared on social media was the Idaho murders. There’s a pretty good chance you’ve already seen this on TikTok. It’s almost like the obsession with drama has evolved into an obsession with new and gruesome theories.

A seemingly obvious reason young individuals are obsessed with true crime is because they want to know why, how, and what to do in this situation to possibly prevent being a victim of a killing.

“Teens want to be scared and shocked because it makes us feel more mature and prepared,” said Madeline Ramirez, a writer for Baron News.

Robert Ambrose, a lawyer at Ambrose Law Firm, decided to work in the criminal justice field. He said, “In addition to wanting to help those who are in a vulnerable place, my interest for criminal defense work was sparked when I learned more about the Constitution. I began to learn more about individual rights and read a lot about cases where the person who was accused was wrongfully convicted of the crime.”

It is acceptable to have an interest in topics such as crime or investigation to remain informed or up to date with what is happening in the world around you, but in some cases one’s mind could become overrun with this fascination.

It is important to acknowledge the difference between researching and trying to learn about a topic vs. being unhealthily consumed with a case.