Making a Murderer. Criminal Minds. I am A Killer. The list goes on and on, and seems to be getting longer.
“There’s that very small element of the population who may see something like this and possibly act, but most people necessarily wouldn’t,” Dr. Terence Leary, Assistant Professor of Psychology at FGCU, said.
Shows like “I Am A Killer” give inmates a platform to tell viewers about their crimes, and their mindset behind it. Why do we keep watching these shows?
In an article from Time Magazine, Criminology professor Scott Bonn was quoted saying the public is drawn to these shows because it triggers fear. Four some, it’s a way for us to experience the thrill without actually getting on the ride, he said.
For others, these shows raise questions about influence. Could shows like this give people ideas about committing crimes and trying to get away with them?
“No I don’t think so because people who are at risk to commit these crimes are going to be triggered anyways by certain events in the environment but the average individual will view something like this, glean some interesting information from it. But it’s not going to increase their likelihood to go out and be a perpetrator,” Dr. Leary said.
Dr. Leary is part of a serial killer database research project between FGCY and Radford University in Radford, Virginia. Students and researchers collect data from serial killers including information about the crimes they have committed.
“We’ve amassed up to about 5,030 serial killers going back to A.D first century. Most are from 1950 to present and we have 186 different variables pertinent to serial killers,” he said.
Leary also teaches forensic studies and a course in criminal minds. So do shows like this really glorify criminal minds?
“In some cases they are,” he said. “The benefit though of viewing these situations on Netflix let’s say, is it creates an awareness.”
“It makes them aware of some of the lessons learned by the inmates so they can convey it’s not a life that one would wish to choose,” he said.
He believes a person like you or me watching these shows won’t be affected, unless something happened.
“There are some psychological predispositions to make one want to commit an act like this and these go back to day ones sort of speak, early childhood experiences, being physically and psychologically abused throughout one’s life time,” Dr. Leary said.