Captured by True Crime: Why Are Women Drawn to Tales of Rape, Murder, and Serial Killers?

Amanda M. Vicary, R. Chris Fraley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The true crime genre, which consists of nonfiction books based on gruesome topics such as rape and murder, has amassed an extensive audience. Many people might assume that men, being the more aggressive sex, would be most likely to find such gory topics interesting. But a perusal of published reader reviews suggests that women enjoy these kinds of books more so than do men. The purpose of this research was to shed light on this apparent paradox. In Studies 1 and 2, the authors conducted a study of reader reviews and a study of book choices that demonstrated that, in fact, women are more drawn to true crime stories whereas men are more attracted to other violent genres. In Studies 3 to 5, the authors manipulated various characteristics of true crime stories to determine which features women find appealing. The authors discuss the findings in light of contemporary evolutionary perspectives on aggression and murder.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)81-86
Number of pages6
JournalSocial Psychological and Personality Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2010


  • aggression
  • crime
  • evolutionary psychology
  • homicide
  • sex differences

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology


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