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From ‘Dahmer’ to ‘A wedding and a murder’: why are we so attracted to serial killers?

The psychologist Ciaria Molina analyzes the success of ‘True Crime’, the most consumed genre in 2021

etradefactory.comAccording to a study by Parrot Analytics, a global audience measurement platform, ‘True Crime’ was the most demanded genre in 2021. The latest and best example of its success, ‘Monster: the story of Jeffrey Dahmer’ , fiction that holds the title of the most viewed in the history of Netflix in its first weeks of release.

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It is not surprising that, given its success, there are numerous titles of this genre in the catalog of each platform, Hayu being one of the ones with the most docuseries about true crimes, with up to 70 at present. That is why from the NBC Universal company they have held a meeting with the psychologist Ciara Molina, from the hand of whom the reason for the impact of ‘True Crime’ on the viewer has been analyzed . According to a study published by Social Psychological and Personality Science, women are more likely to consume true crime stories than men, the prevalence is 70% women, 30% men . This curious fact is due, according to the expert’s analysis, “because one of the most generalized and marked characteristics among women is their survival instinctand precisely this instinct leads us to want to know how we should behave if it happens to us, so the content shown in ‘True Crime’ connects us with learning and the feeling of protection. Knowledge is power, just as fear is the absence of information, therefore, the more we learn about something, the safer we feel and our defense mechanisms are more activated in the face of a possible clue.” And it is that, says Molina, ” we cannot prevent the mind from feeling attracted to any violent action, since we are designed to survive . In the face of a threat, the mind activates the ‘fight-flight’ mechanism, faces fear or away from him, but he needs to resolve the situation, to protect himself or his loved ones”, so this type of product serves as an apprenticeship in this regard. But there are many other reasons why this genre can become a real “hook” for many people. One of the most prominent is based on the fact that this type of program produces curiosity and this genre, as explained by psychologist Todd B. Kashdan (2017), from George Mason University, connects with the five categories of curiosity:what is called cheerful exploration to become a future student of criminology; sensitivity to lack, someone who needs to feel in control so as not to become a victim; stress tolerance with the desire to solve the mystery; the social curiosity that is reflected in the interest in knowing how far the human mind reaches and, finally, the search for emotions, in this case, for new emotional experiences not explored until now. Thus, Molina concludes, in line with this, that “it motivates us on a psychological level, raises our adrenaline and activates our survival instinct. It could be said that it makes us feel more alive than ever .” In addition, another interesting aspect to analyze is how this type of betting impacts our socialization: “Watching these realities helps us to reaffirm our moral points of view about what is right and what is wrong and in this way we review our scale of values regarding our relationship with others “, says the psychologist. Analyzing some more specific cases, such as those that can be seen in ‘A wedding and a murder’, a proposal that follows cases that went from happy celebrations to premature deaths, Ciara delves into how the human psyche works when the individual lacks empathy , something almost always present in the protagonists of the genre.   “There are different types of personalities prone to these acts, such as Machiavellian people, who are calculating and cold, who destroy any emotional connection with others to achieve what they set out to do; narcissists , perverse with a cold rationality combined with the inability of considering others as human beings, their goal is the psychological destruction of the victim; psychopaths who consider others as an object that they can use and throw away according to their will, lacking remorse and shame and with great social skills; sociopathic people, lacking empathy, guilt, shame or regret, self-centered, detached from social norms, impulsive, hostile and with a tendency to present themselves as charming, but unreliable and, finally, the sadists who enjoy hurting or humiliating others and feed off of other people’s suffering”, sums up the psychologist.

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