Interested in serial killers? Morbid curiosity in college students

Marissa A. Harrison, Erika J. Frederick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


A plethora of movies, television programs, podcasts, and online videos are dedicated to horror and terror, with fictional (e.g., zombies) and nonfictional (e.g., serial killing) themes. Morbid curiosity is a phenomenon where individuals attend to, or seek information about, horrid subjects, such as terror and death. Moreover, morbid curiosity has been tied with sexual curiosity and sensation seeking in past research, with men typically demonstrating more of each phenomenon. We hypothesized that interest in the topic of serial killers and other morbid academic and entertainment topics would be positively associated with morbid curiosity, sexual curiosity, and sensation seeking. Data supported these hypotheses with some notable gender differences. Viewed through the lens of evolutionary psychology, interest in horrific events, such as serial killing, may be a product of protective vigilance. We discuss these results, limitations, and future directions for research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3768-3777
Number of pages10
JournalCurrent Psychology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Psychology


Dive into the research topics of 'Interested in serial killers? Morbid curiosity in college students'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this