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Why Are People So Obsessed With True Crime?

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Nowadays, content is king, and there’s major appetite for true-crime. Half of Americans say they enjoy the genre, according to YouGov polling. From docuseries to TV shows, podcasts, books, films — you name it — true crime is an easy rabbit hole to fall into.

Kelli Boling is an assistant professor at University of Nebraska-Lincoln. "What we're seeing is more access to true-crime content, more availability of true-crime content and more production of true-crime content. So I think when you're looking at a popularity scale, it's just easier to access," said Boling. But there's a consistent audience tapping into the true-crime treasure trove: "White women," said Boling. YouGov polling found women (58%) were more likely than men (42%) to say they enjoyed true crime. So much so, it’s a running joke on TikTok.

Why does any of this appeal to women? Boling, who studies true-crime audiences, says it begins with a formula of sorts. "So, a lot of true crime is built off of media coverage," said Boling. "Where the media has been shown to cover White victims more than victims of color in plenty of studies across decades. That continues to be the case. So, if the media are covering mostly White female heterosexual victims, then that's what true crime is producing off of, because that's the media that they have access to. And so then they are attracting an audience that looks like that." So, there’s the audience, but what is it about true crime that keeps women engaged? A 2010 study published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science found women were interested in the psychology behind a killer, stories where women were victims and reading about survival.

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