Why are we fascinated with true crime stories?
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Things and people that are potentially threatening command attention. Our survival instincts form our fascination with the stories of true crime.
Upon hearing an incident of danger or disaster, our brain's part called the amygdala, that is responsible for emotions, memory and survival tactics is stimulated. It signals our frontal cortex region of the brain to evaluate and interpret the data, invoking the ‘fight or flight’ response.
As humans, we want to know the psychology of the bad people, who are also supposedly just as human as we are.
This creates a curiosity to know more about the deranged, criminal mind, and the other aspects of the scenario, like solving a jig-saw puzzle.
The tendency to automatically give more weightage, attention and meaning to the negative aspects of any event or situation is called Negative Bias.
A 2008 study by the American Psychological Association (APA) found that we tend to react towards or be curious about the negative experiences and stories around us, considerably more than the positive ones.
Many people are fascinated by crime stories as they began to envision themselves as the person who is in that situation, and how they would plan their escape or face their biggest fears without risking themselves of any real danger.
They imagine themselves inside the disaster and try to understand if they would be able to endure the pain, and what decisions they would make, should an uncontrollable situation arise.
Consuming stories of crime and destruction can be beneficial too, as it acts as a coping mechanism for the various hardships that life has to offer. But too much of the same can have a reverse effect, making us feel chronically worried and depressed.
The brain creates and pumps a dose of adrenaline every time one watches a true crime story, something that is common while watching breaking news. This rush of adrenaline can be addictive and unhealthy in the long run.
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