Study shows women more likely to listen to true crime podcasts than men

Two people produce a podcast. Women are often more drawn to true crime podcasts than men. (Made in canvas by Tenley Hale)

A study published in Social psychology and personality sciences found that women are more likely than men to choose true crime media because of the educational aspect, the psychological aspect, and because the victims are often female.

The study gave a group of men and women a choice between two books, one containing details of how the female victim escaped and the other not. The results showed that women were more likely to choose the book with details of how the victim escaped than men.

“Essentially, women, more than men, would have something to gain from reading these books, especially when the story features female victims,” the study says. “Our findings that women were attracted to stories with relevant fitness information make sense in light of research showing that women are more fearful of being victims of crime than men.”

Data compiled by Spotify showed that female listeners to the true-crime podcast genre grew by 16% in 2019.

BYU Communications Professor Kevin John said part of the reason women might be more drawn to true crime than men is that women experience a different level of fear in their daily lives than men.

“I really think part of the reason women are drawn to true crime is that there’s a level of relativity between the women and the victims in those stories and we often project ourselves onto the media we consume. “, John said.

A decision tree intended to help the viewer discover new true crime podcasts. Women are more likely than men to listen to true crime podcasts. (Made in canvas by Tenley Hale)

Utah Valley University student and true crime fan Sophie Perrett enjoys listening to true crime podcasts 4-5 times a week.

“Everyone always thinks these things won’t happen to them, so it’s interesting to hear stories about when it actually happens,” said Perret.

perret said listening to the true crime is both terrifying and educational.

“I’ve definitely picked up a few habits like locking my doors as soon as I get in the car and checking the tags on my things when I go out alone.” said Perret.

BYU psychology professor Dr. Brock Kirwan said that people may be drawn to true-crime podcasts because it’s a way to put themselves in harm’s way without actually being in harm’s way.

“When you listen to true crime podcasts, you put yourself in a situation where you can trick your brain into thinking it’s dangerous, even though you’re in a relatively safe environment where you’re not in danger. and that some people appreciate the response you get from that,” Kirwan said.

A collage of popular true crime podcasts. Women are more likely to listen to true crime podcasts than men. (Made in canvas by Tenley Hale)

Kirwan also said curiosity about what other people are capable of is another reason people are drawn to true crime.

“I think the shock value of what horrible people are capable of is what keeps me coming back to true crime,” said BYU student Breanna Wirth. “People like to know the intriguing and dramatic aspects of life.”

John explained that the amount of grassroots violence in our media is already at a high level, so to go deeper, we need to link violence to reality.

“I think the popularity of true crime programming is symptomatic of the growing violence in our media and the desire we have to reach the same high level that violence gives us, whether you like it or not,” John said. “You may be a person who dislikes violence, but watching something violent will still give you heightened emotional arousal that can be addictive.”

John explained that individuals view certain media because of how they feel and that violent media, like true crime, can elicit an emotional response that is a change of pace in our daily lives.

“I don’t think people who are really into true crime should worry,” Kirwan said. “Mysteries and crime stories have been around for years and are something that appeals to us as humans.”

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