The Love and Lust for Convicted Criminals

With the implementation of social media, and the intimacy we have into strangers’ lives, parasocial relationships have become common in today’s world. Everywhere you see articles and blogs about celebrities. Posts that ask what relationships they’re in, what they do on a day to day basis, asking intimate questions you wouldn’t normally ask a stranger. And it is no surprise that these parasocial relationships, relationships where people believe they have a form of connection to a celebrity or internet personality, can extend to criminals.

The most famous example was the craze that surrounded famous serial killer Ted Bundy. With his trials and story being reported on nearly every news station and newspaper, flocks of women fell in love. Sending him love letters, gifts and attending his trials like they were a concert, he became a sensation for his looks despite the horrific crimes he had committed. But because of the amount of reporting, those women fell in love and believed that they had a chance with the dashing murder-rapist.

More recently, in 2021 a young man by the name of Cameron Herrin killed a mother and her daughter while racing in south Florida. His car was reported to have been going at 102 MPH and killed the pair instantly. However, when photos of Herrin released he gained a massive cult following, not dissimilar to Ted Bundy. Thousands of women on both TikTok and Twitter were coming to the young man’s defense solely for his attractiveness. They believed that because he was “too cute” that he should not be given a harsh jail sentence, even though he murdered a mother and daughter with his vehicle.

The phenomenon of people being attracted to criminals, no matter how obscene or disgusting the crime, is a mystery. With countless examples other than Bundy and Herrin, it is interesting to see the development of parasocial relationships and how “fans” of the killers have more access into their lives than previously. Possibly causing their perceived relationships with the criminals to deepen even further, creating an imaginary sense of connection that bonds the viewer with the killer.

 

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Mint Bunhey

66 thoughts on “The Love and Lust for Convicted Criminals

  1. I feel the charm found in these individuals as known criminals means that even before they must have been found very charming. In the example of Ted Bundy, I bet this made it even easier for him to get close to his victims. It was interesting to learn of the extent to which looks can overpower personality in individuals’ evaluations of others– or to consider the fact that a violent criminal personality type could be playing into the charm.

  2. I also have a lot of interest in crime documentaries and heard several times of people forming par asocial relationships with a criminal. However, I noticed that it hasn’t only been limited to criminals but increasingly towards YouTubers and other social media celebrities. The idea of par asocial relationship is very alarming, not only because of the invasion of privacy of the admired, but also because of the detrimental mental effects on the admirer. It is definitely more concerning when the admired is a convicted criminal. I wonder what the psychoanalysis behind this is and would love to learn more.

  3. Another popular serial killer that was romanticized was Richard Ramirez. In a recent documentary made about him, primarily women would send him lewd photos and letters of praise and encouragement of his actions. The transpiring of attraction to serial killers is unbeknownst to me; if I could guess, I would have to say they have unresolved unworked trauma that would cause them to “fall” for someone who is sick and twisted.

  4. I think the love and lust towards criminals held by these women are abnormal and immoral, but this does reflect something. This phenomenon kind of links to the biological theories of crime discussed in our criminology class. The biology theory states that some human beings have inherent and biological characteristics that under certain conditions would lead to criminal acts, and this theory was advocated by Italian phrenologists at early times, aiming to identify criminals based on their facial features such as large jaws, giant ears, and by analyzing how their physiological characteristics corresponded to sense of consequence, feminine feature, love of sex, vanity, secretive untruthfulness, etc. This is a form of determinism, and promotes unjustness in the justice system. The action of Hybristophilia is just similar, as those obsessed women certainly failed to integrate the physical features of the criminal with their obscene criminal behaviors. This may be that the determinism is entrenched, as most people believe the good feelings they have when seeing other’s good features and naturally regard them as nicer than those appear ugly and disgusting; or more terribly, the obsessed women realized their solid criminal behaviors but turn a blind eye to them, simply because the criminals have nice looking and they fall in love with them due to lack of morality and ethics. In regulating this phenomenon and restoring the fairness in the justice system, especially social media should not massively report or post information regarding the criminal, or they will spread unhealthy fashion and twisty values in the society.

  5. There has been a fascination with criminals for a long time. I wonder why women specifically fall in love with murderers. It seems like they are living out a fantasy of a story villain while they are the main love interest. In women’s fiction, the villain/murderer is romanticized and the woman is special and they would never hurt them. I wonder if these women believe they could be special to them and that makes them not care about their victims.

  6. I would be interested in seeing what drives these women into obsessing over these men. I think most women are scared of strange men because of infamous murderers and rapists but these fans choose to empathize and romanticize a murderer. It almost seems like they are seeing this real person as a villain in a story and themselves as a main love interest. So what drives these women to fantasize about murderers and not normal famous men or even fictional men?

  7. I find it interesting that these women fall in love with these men because many women have a fear of strange men. They even form a sort of connection with other women because they also feel the same. I don’t understand why these women do not care for the victims. I want to say it’s because of the internet and how many times we don’t see people on the news, social media, and movies as fully human and don’t emphasize with them. However, this has been going on for decades. It feels as if they are projecting their fantasy of a villain onto a real-life monster and they want to be the special love interest.

  8. I think that the romantic attraction that often comes with sensationalized criminals definitely needs to be explored as it has become a widely popular phenomena. The lust that Ted Bundy and Cameron Herrin have experienced is not uncommon. There are even dating sites explicitly for people currently in prison to date people not currently or ever convicted of crimes, and it is wildly popular. I believe that it has a great deal to say about the complex and toxic nature of some romantic habits, such as wanting to be a “fixer”, loving an “underdog”, or simply just wanting fame and attention. I think that it is important to look beyond sensationalized documentaries for this behavior, although that can be a factor too, but rather to other forms of media and social/cultural standards that enforce toxic romantic relationships. I think that the romanticization of criminals is an extreme case of a problem with enforcing toxic ideals in romance that should be studied.

  9. It’s also interesting to think about things such as “pretty privilege” and how criminals who are deemed more attractive that others will receive lesser sentencing and more public support. There was actually a psychological study done about this phenomenon. This is just summarizing the study but here are some of the key points and findings: two separate juries were each given descriptions about a crime that was committed. Both juries received details of the same crime. Then each jury was shown a photograph of the defendant. However, one jury was shown a picture of a person who was deemed attractive, while the other was shown a picture of someone who was considered average/below average on attractiveness. When it came time to decide a sentence for the defendant, the jurors who were shown the attractive person all voted a lesser sentence. Something to consider about how it’s very possible to be attracted to criminals, because when they look beautiful, we rationalize our infatuation with them because we lesser the severity of their crime.

  10. Hybristophilia, or sexual interest and attraction to those who commit crimes is just an extreme limit to the phenomenon of like the “bad boy.” These tropes have existed for so long and are often coupled with the phenomenon that someone out there exists that can turn the criminal lawful. The thought that many, especially crazed partners in these parasocial relationships hold is that the criminal partner would love the hybristophiliac so much to not jeopardize their relationship by committing crimes and possibly forcing distance between them in case they are caught by authorities. I also think that for so many it’s “easier” if the criminal is conventionally unattractive because then it’s easier to judge them for both their crimes and their appearance but for those that are conventionally attractive, many people try to separate the face from the crime, or they’re quicker to make up excuses for why the crimes (no matter the varying degree) had to be committed.

  11. I think this is an interesting phenomenon that has gained more traction over the years. I first heard about this happening with the case of Ted Bundy and couldn’t quite understand why women were so fascinated with him after all the horrible crimes he committed. I think the media has played a large part in spreading this type of rarity, where people get to share and bond over their obsessions with serial killers. There is a lot of danger that comes with these obsessions because it’s almost as if people are trying to normalize these atrocious acts with conventional looks. As we continue to see these obsessions unfold, there should be research studies that aim to investigate why this obsessive behavior happens.

  12. First of all, I don’t think this is a single-way woman falling in love with men killers because I do see cases the other way around. I kind of understand how people develop affection towards “bad people” because that’s something that always happens in anime and movies. One of my friends tried to explain why they have such feelings and they said it might be because in fantasy worlds, people’s lives are often built not to be equal and the moral aspects of disrespecting another life are acceptable in some anime and movies. But the reality is that all those victims deserve the same amount of right to live as anyone else and nobody should take that away from them through violence and deceives.

  13. The phenomenon of individuals developing parasocial relationships with criminals raises intriguing questions about the complexities of human psychology and societal fascination with deviance. It underscores the need to examine the factors that contribute to such behaviors and the potential implications for understanding crime and its perception in society. The media plays a crucial role in shaping public perceptions and contributing to the development of parasocial relationships with criminals. This exposure can create a false sense of intimacy and connection, blurring the lines between reality and fantasy. The constant stream of information and the ability to interact with others who share similar interests in criminals can reinforce and amplify these parasocial relationships.

  14. It is very unsettling seeing any sort of romanticization of criminals/murderers. I have also seen that when some people are called out for this behavior they attempt to defend their actions by claiming it was all just a joke. But even if they meant it as a joke, I personally find nothing funny about it. I also cannot help but think about how the victims or people close to the victims of these criminals feel about seeing the criminal that deeply impacted their life getting romanticized or people saying they should be forgiven because of their looks. The fact that people can excuse such horrible behavior because of a person’s appearance is so off-putting. Social media especially has created a tolerance to vain behavior, that it has allowed people to feel that it is okay to glorify some awful people just because they are good-looking.

  15. I would be interested in watching a documentary about people that fantasize about having relationships with criminals so we can better understand the psychology behind it. What is it about a certain criminal like Ted Bundy that allows women to fall in love with them? Maybe it is the intimacy they feel they have with criminals without actually having to interact with them. On the other hand, if the delusion becomes strong enough a lot of women long to interact with the criminals they have developed a love for. It is a fascinating and interesting phenomenon, but would those women be better served by receiving some sort of therapy to help them instead of being ostracized?

  16. I’m someone who will appreciate villainous characters, including villains who do a lot of illegal acts. 2021 I’ve seen this news. I think for this situation, you can choose to like such a criminal, but you can’t get him off the hook for that reason. It’s a ridiculous thinking. These suitors only see his handsomeness but ignore the pain of a husband who lost his wife and daughter.

  17. It’s strange that even though these individuals did committed murder, which most people would agree is morally wrong, that there are people who can overlook it due to attractiveness. The way media portrays criminals is glorified with the rise in true crime shows, podcasts and movies. There is so much content that I feel like people have become numb to violence. There are also shows about stalkers, and murders played by attractive actors creating fans. This type of media has blurred the line between real criminals and fictional characters. So people are viewing these criminals more as characters than real people committing these horrible crimes.

  18. Whenever I see these posts on social media of the newest murderer, there is always somebody in the comment section saying something along the lines of “They’re cute though”. It always makes me feel weird to see these comments and the people agreeing with them or liking the comment. It makes me worry for how my younger siblings and people younger than me in general have become so desensitized to violence and suffering. I am a horror fan but there are some things I don’t like to watch. Shows glamorizing serial killers being one of them, or just true crime in general. I tried watching the Dahmer show with my roommate but it lowkey made me sick watching it so we only got to the second episode. Its things like that show and reading the comments thirsting after literal murderers that make me wonder how the family of the victims must feel. I hope they never have to read those comments because I got to imagine that seeing the person who took your loved one from you being glorified in any way must hurt in a very painful way.

  19. The phenomenon of individuals developing parasocial relationships with criminals raises intriguing questions about the complexities of human psychology and societal fascination with deviance. It underscores the need to examine the factors that contribute to such behaviors and the potential implications for understanding crime and its perception in society. The media plays a crucial role in shaping public perceptions and contributing to the development of parasocial relationships with criminals. Extensive media coverage, especially in the age of social media, allows for greater access and exposure to the lives of criminals. This exposure can create a false sense of intimacy and connection, blurring the lines between reality and fantasy. The constant stream of information and the ability to interact with others who share similar interests in criminals can reinforce and amplify these parasocial relationships.

  20. The phenomenon of individuals developing parasocial relationships with criminals raises intriguing questions about the complexities of human psychology and societal fascination with deviance. It underscores the need to examine the factors that contribute to such behaviors and the potential implications for understanding crime and its perception in society. , the media plays a crucial role in shaping public perceptions and contributing to the development of parasocial relationships with criminals. Extensive media coverage, especially in the age of social media, allows for greater access and exposure to the lives of criminals. This exposure can create a false sense of intimacy and connection, blurring the lines between reality and fantasy. The constant stream of information and the ability to interact with others who share similar interests in criminals can reinforce and amplify these parasocial relationships.

  21. People being attracted to criminals has really always been a mystery to me and very much odd. It is incredibly disrespectful to any victims or anybody that has been impacted by their crimes. I truly do not understand it. I saw the reactions people had online to people like Ted Bundy and even Jeffrey Dahmer when tv shows and documentaries were released about them. It did not help that popular actors that are deemed attractive outside the role were casted to play these criminals. It is quite alarming and in poor taste.

  22. The often grotesque phenomenon of people becoming obsessed and oftentimes infatuated with federal convicts is hard to comprehend. I think as humans we often mix up fascination and infatuation. As a society we are largely intrigued by the dark parts of human nature. This is apparent when we take notice that true crime TV shows and movies are often the most watched media on streaming services. For example, Netflix’s Jeffrey Dahmer show became one of the most streamed shows of all time on any streaming service this year (link below). Human fascination of these individuals who commit astonishing and shocking crimes can sometimes turn into awe. This is what has been seen during the Ted Bundy trials as mentioned in the above article. While social media may exacerbate this phenomenon, I think it is likely that something akin to what I have described has always occurred. It is just easier to “get to know” a serial killer/federal convict now on Wikipedia.

    -https://about.netflix.com/en/news/dahmer-monster-the-jeffrey-dahmer-story-surpasses-1-billion-hours-viewed

  23. I have heard similar examples of how women fell in love with serial killers like Ted Bundy or criminals. I was always confused by how women have fantasies about those guys, instead of guys with similar attractiveness. I guess one of the plausible reasons may be how parasocial relationships enable people not to know those guys personally while also having a fantasy, given enough information on the Internet. Therefore, women may feel those guys extra attractive as those guys have the courage to commit a crime, loving this another layer of mystery.

  24. It is unbelievable how people would love to form a close connection or what is called parasocial relationships with such careless and dangerous criminals who could have victimized them by chance instead of the actual victims. I remember last year coming with all of these Cameron Herrin’s trending trials and personal life-related videos which were popping up on my For You feed on Tiktok. Women posting these videos seemed to be very obsessed with Herrin, and how handsome and innocent he is while forgetting his actual crime and recklessness. People even sympathized with him more than sympathizing with the victim’s husband/ father who lost his beloved wife and child. The way I feel about this is that social media has a huge influence on how people would perceive or feel about somebody. The way these criminals are presented on different social media platforms is crazy. It is just focused on their look, body image, or facial expression rather than the bad things they did. This tends to make people look at them as those badass antiheroes in movies and TV series, thus they start romanticizing/idealizing them because they get more immersed in their superficial characteristics rather than their deep and dark personalities.

  25. People always give me a hard time about my opinions on this, but I think the recent romanticization of serial killers in media is borderline nauseating. The creation of dramatized shows and documentaries appears to separate these criminals from their actions and allow people to imagine them as “good people,” when, if you were to read an official report (or other formal work), you would never have any positive feelings towards these people. I can see the interest in shows that orient around the forensic side of things, but I find the way that people are seeming to sympathize with serial killers rather offputting.

  26. I find the phenomenon of parasocial relationships with criminals extremely strange. Despite knowing the horrific things that these criminals did, people create fanbases for them simply based on their looks. I believe the reason for this is that these fans are disconnected from the reality of the situation. To them, it is the same as finding a character in a TV show attractive rather than a real person who murdered real people.

  27. As a person who has been into true crime for a long time, I have always found the concept interesting. it’s fascinating to me that there are people out there who would “fall in love” with these criminals after knowing what they have done. Especially women who fall in love with criminals who hurt women in particular.

  28. I have noticed this too in my time online. Not just Ted Bundy and the recent case of Cameron Herrin, but many other serial killers and violent offenders, including people already in the spotlight. Take Chris Brown, a good-looking man, well-known for his domestic abuse against Rihanna. Many people still support his music career and treat him greatly despite his past of violence. It’s shameful that these people can hurt so many lives but be dismissed because of their appearance.

  29. I’ve noticed this too and I honestly find it disgusting. I’ll never understand how someone can know a person committed such awful crimes yet ignore that and romanticize them simply because they’re attracted to them. I can’t imagine being attracted to a criminal like Ted Bundy because to me these people just instantly become unattractive in my head because of the horrors they committed. I notice people romanticizing killers a lot on Twitter, and there’s actually a whole separate section of Twitter called “tcctwt” for people who romanticize murderers to find each other and post about the murderer(s) they’ve dedicated their accounts to. I often see people posting pictures of murderers and talking about how hot they think they are, even going so far as to make edits of them.

  30. I’ve noticed this too and I honestly find it disgusting. I’ll never understand how someone can know a person committed such awful crimes yet ignore that and romanticize them simply because they’re attracted to them. I can’t imagine being attracted to a criminal like Ted Bundy because to me these people just instantly become unattractive in my head because of the horrors they committed. I notice people romanticizing killers a lot on Twitter, and there’s actually a whole separate section of Twitter called “tcctwt” for people who romanticize murderers to find each other and post about the murderer(s) they’ve dedicated their accounts to. I often see people posting pictures of murderers and talking about how they they think they are, even going so far as to make edits of them.

  31. Some people have been discussing these parasocial relationships with criminals in comparison to parasocial relationships with celebrities. As an observer of how people discuss their parasocial relationships with celebrities and criminals they are often so consumed that they end up defending the actions of those who they claim to “love”. I believe this is also fueled by the media, TV, and movie industries obsession with crime and criminals; and we see this through the Jeffrey Dahmer series on Netflix. Though the series itself is not made to defend the murderer, the writing and directing of some of the episodes lends itself for fans to sexualize the criminal instead of hate them..

  32. Some people have been discussing these parasocial relationships with criminals in comparison to parasocial relationships with celebrities. As an observer of how people discuss their parasocial relationships with celebrities and criminals they are often so consumed that they end up defending the actions of those who they claim to “love”. I believe this is also fueled by the media, TV, and movie industries obsession with crime and criminals; and we see this through the Jeffrey Dahmer series on Netflix. Though the series itself is not made to defend the murderer, the writing and directing of some of the episodes lends itself for fans to sexualize the criminal instead of hate them.

  33. I always thought this phenomenon was so strange: romanticizing someone that has done terrible things to other people just because they’re attractive. I think it’s so harmful and disrespectful to the victims’ families and the trauma they are having to experience from reliving those moments by seeing people posting about them. They’re completely dismissing the actions of the criminal and focusing on their appearance instead.

  34. The idea that people could defend murderers and rapists solely on their looks is an extreme version of what many refer to as “pretty privilege”. Typically “pretty privilege” is getting free entry into an event or even being spoken to in a more positive and patient tone just because you are conventionally attractive. Though unfair, psychologically speaking, less extreme versions of pretty privilege make sense. However, it is astounding how far some take this, especially now that there are so many accessible media outlets reporting on these cases.

  35. This phenomenon is so interesting when you consider its origins. The “bad boy” persona that is hyped up in the media is something I think contributes to this. When women are fed the stereotype that the most attractive men are those breaking laws, acting cool, and endangering others or themselves, they will sometimes seek to find those men in their lives because they romanticize these issues and these situations. When the media created an uproar about Bundy’s crimes and published his photo, it was inevitable that a similar group of women would also show affection to this man because he is the bad boy persona to the extreme.

  36. There has always been a sort of soft-handed approach when it comes to holding conventionally attractive people accountable for their actions. Whether that means someone flirting with an officer to get out of a ticket or bargaining a letter grade with a professor, it’s notoriously easier to get what you want when you have a more attractive face. When it comes to criminals, especially ones as gruesome and violent as Bundy, it’s really interesting to me that people still allow appearance to trump behavior. I’ve definitely noticed that this phenomenon is even more prevalent in fictional scenarios; obviously actors in TV shows aren’t actually violent, but people tend to empathize with the antagonist (regardless of their behavior) when they are nice to look at. I’ve noticed this less in scenarios with real-life violent criminals but I think the two thought pools are definitely related and it’s hard for our natural attraction to differentiate between fictional and real criminals. Obviously finding a cirminal attractive and actively bargaining for their release are two very different things, but since one might lead to the other, it should definitely be a more researched topic.

  37. As somebody who has been into true crime for a very long time (since I was 9), I always thought this concept interesting. I even saw myself falling into this kind of culture. As I grew older, I understood how harmful it could be to admire a horrendous person like this. Unfortunately, I had a crush on Eric Menendez, but I grew out of it after understanding how harmful it can be

  38. I find these parasocial relationships very interesting because of the fact that the person invested feels as if they really know the person they are a “fan” of. We see this all of the time with celebrities, where people claim to know everything about them even though it is all just from information that has been made public. It’s crazy to think that this extends to criminals simply because they are good looking. People tend to use that attractiveness to prove that someone is or isn’t harmful and quite honestly its an extremely dangerous way of thinking. As humans we need to be more careful about the way we think about these strangers whom we really know nothing about.

  39. I’ve unfortunately witnessed this from other young women many times before, and I think it’s a very bizarre phenomenon. These parasocial fascinations with criminals, along with women romanticizing murder mysteries/crime documentaries is wild. I’m interested what it is about the dark and horrifying nature of these topics that draw women in so easily. Furthermore, I wonder if this isn’t only limited to women — I wonder if men often fascinate about the same things!

  40. I think that people tend to cut some slack for conventionally attractive people and that extends to criminal activity as well. If Cameron Herrin or Ted Bundy did not have their looks, they would undoubtedly be treated worse and wouldn’t have a fanbase online. Because of the constant reports on these criminals, their faces were spread even more on many different news outlets and social media which eventually allowed the creation of fanbases and enthusiasts. I remember watching TikToks about Cameron Herrin and saw accounts comment about how he’s innocent. Clicking on their accounts, I found edits of Cameron Herrin as if he was a regular celebrity. I found it peculiar and unfortunate that someone can basically lessen the severity of their crimes if they looked “attractive”.

  41. Social media does make it easier to invade other people’s privacies. But celebrities are different, the reason that the job makes so much more money is because of social media. They can reach more people easily. More people like them, more profit for them. People want to know more about them is a sign that they are doing a good job. Sometimes there’s unwanted attention, I’m saying harassing celebrities is okay, but this is the risk that they inevitably come across; every job has its own risks.

    I think falling in love with good-looking criminals is an example of pretty privilege. People tend to be more empathetic toward attractive people. Men fell in love with female violent criminals as well if you search online. I think the reason this isn’t discussed more often is that women simply don’t commit as many violent crimes as men, there isn’t enough sample. And society is often more forgiving towards men than women when it comes to morals.

  42. What an interesting read. I didn’t hear about Cameron Herrin’s case until now. I agree with the article in emphasizing issues of online platforms in shifting public perceptions of reality. The force of visuality is so powerful and has the ability to influence our understandings and feelings so easily. I do also think this factor of “attractiveness” in criminals is relevant to the conversation of media visuality, being similar in the sense that our face-value eyes make sense of a situation, our emotional heart makes sense of a situation, and our logical brain makes sense of a situation. We’ll likely feel different about someone when we only see them, versus when we truly understand who they are and what they’ve done. With social media usage, it’s an important reminder that just because you see someone’s profile, doesn’t mean you see who they are.

  43. I think it’s interesting that parasocial relationships with celebrities, and even historical figures, is something that’s incredibly normalized. And while disturbing, celebrity culture is designed for parasocial relationships and it’s no surprise that people form these relationships to criminals. However, I can’t help myself in feeling confused and queasy when people express to me their obsession with serial killers. There has been a notable amount of attention being given to serial killers lately with all the documentaries and adaptations being made and I can’t bring myself to watch them. It feels gross to exploit the victims and the victim’s family and all the pain and fear. It’s really not my thing.

  44. I think many young women have an “I can fix him” mentality regarding these sorts of people. Women find these criminals attractive and form parasocial relationships and romanticize serial killers. Recent media, such as the Dahmer show, is attempting to make these serial killers even more sympathetic without giving a voice to the people they hurt. It’s crazy that people can look at a known killer and try to convince people of their innocence just because the person is attractive.

  45. I think the creation of documentaries/movies isn’t helping this situation either, especially when they cast attractive celebrities to play the serial killer. This helps romanticize the murders that were committed. It’s interesting, because if you take a well-loved celebrity to play an evil historical figure, there’s two ways the audience could perceive both the celebrity and the movie: they could associate the actor with the evil crimes, tainting their perception of the actor, or they could associate the crimes with the “good” actor, therefore minimizing the pain caused by the murders. It seems like the latter is talked about more, and I wonder what psychologically is causing this.

  46. This article highlights the issues that have arisen due to increased use of social media and online presence, as I feel that often times these platforms strip people from the ability to see and understand reality.And due to such failure in the establishment of reality, social media allows people to create their own perceptions of individuals, which is what feeds these parasocial relationships with people despite what they’ve done or who they are.

  47. I feel like this whole thing is just reflecting the trend of people idolizing celebrities that is reinforced by our culture. Still, it is bizarre that this trend is so deep that is extended to people accused of major crimes. I suspect the specific demographic effected by have had a history with being attracted to .. similar things. I wonder if it’s also the fact that the crime may also appear masculine that contributes to the attraction. Still I wonder, if this is also reflected on men as well, and may just be under reported

  48. I feel like this whole thing is just reflecting the trend of people idolizing celebrities that is reinforced by our culture. Still, it is bizarre that this trend is so deep that is extended to people accused of major crimes. I suspect the specific demographic effected by have had a history with being attracted to .. simialr things. I wonder if it’s also the fact that the crime may also appear masculine that contributes to the attraction. Still I wonder, if this is also reflected on men as well, and may just be under reported .

  49. Parasocial relationships have been increasingly discussed in our culture now with how ubiquitous social media is for the world. Fan culture and the undying admiration fans would have for certain celebrities and even criminals have fascinated psychology. With convicted criminals it’s intriguing to see how they manage to gain a following despite how it is objectively proven that they have done bad things that have harmed people severely. Although with the way the media sensationalizes the documentation of these types of crimes, it is almost glorified how these gruesome acts are portrayed and the attention is on the person committing the act, not the victims. Perhaps how we portray these types of events would be contributing to how we notice this phenomenon. For example, dramatic re-imaginings of these events are packaged into shows and/or movies, and potentially portraying it in a way that strikes an emphatic chord for the audience.

  50. The phenomenon of people (especially girls) falling in love with convicted murderers/criminals due to their physical attractiveness is interesting and also concerning. I think in part, it may have to do with the fact that we have been brainwashed by media, etc to believe that beauty = good and ugly = evil. When the beautiful act evil, it can feel a bit confusing because it goes against all of the messages we have been told (think Disney characters… who is beautiful and who is ugly?). People seem to think that incredibly attractive people could not commit horrendous crimes, or give them a pass because maybe they assume they have other redeeming qualities (such as their looks?).

  51. This phenomenon is very strange indeed. It is no secret that people with “pretty privilege”, or people that are naturally beautiful in the eyes of the majority, often have it easier than others in terms of the consequences of their actions. This is seen in how the severity of these murderers’ crimes was downplayed simply because the criminals were attractive. Also, I think this phenomenon is because of the obsessive trait many of these serial killers have. Generally, people want to be obsessed over and paid attention to, and the level that these killers take their obsession to is attractive to them which is why they “fall in love” with them despite the absolutely awful things these people have done.

  52. As someone who did not grow up in the US I have always found this phenomenon very surreal, and concerning. I am not sure why someone would feel so inclined to defend a murderer based solely on his looks, although I do have a theory. I believe that they way most of us have been raised has, firmly made us put a lot of weight on people’s appearances, and second it’s made both man and woman (not everyone of course) very prone to forgiving man for wrongdoing, for man I believe is more of an inclination to unconsciously believe that men are better that women and seeing themselves in other men that leads them to be empathetic to men who are being judged for their wrongdoings. And I think for women it a little different since we are thought that in some way or another men are better than us and thus we should be more forgiving and have more empathy towards them. And I think both phenomenons present commonly but we as a society are used to point out women’s mistakes more often, and that we get so focused on how women react to these cases.

  53. Although this article supposes we do not know why people are attracted to criminals just because they are good-looking, I personally think it might be due to maternal/paternal instinct. People who like that person should probably be delusional thinking ‘Oh, I would like to care for him with love and he will be changed into a new person because of me!’. I do not understand them, but if I was a researcher researching this topic, I would do some research on the maternal/paternal instinct.

  54. The article says that we cannot know the reason why many people are attracted to criminals. However, I have thought that it might be due to the wrong thought of those people. I think there might be a chance of them thinking ‘Oh, maybe I can change that handsome guy and make him a new person with love and care!’. I am not sure, but if I was doing research on this, I would like to do research on the aspects of maternal/paternal instinct.

  55. I’m going to be straightforward and say that this phenomenon is strange. I cannot understand why people become obsessed or grow attached to people they do not know. I understand people can be drawn by looks but not to the point that they look past criminal charges or eccentric behaviors. Thinking someone is attractive is one thing, but going out of your way to connect with people who want nothing to do with you is obsessive and scary. The act of women sending Ted Bundy love letters reminds me of erotomania where people think celebrities are secretly in love with them and sending them messages. This brushes on the topic of celebrity crushes, but there’s plenty more where that came from.

  56. The parasocial relationships and attachment to criminals that we see today is concerning. It’s true that psychology explains that attractive people are seen in a better light, or as “good people” and thus easily forgiven or leading people to deny their negative traits or behaviors, but when it comes to criminals who have committed horrific acts, and all the evidence of that being public, it is worrying that people, especially young women, continue to idealize them due to their looks. However, I do also blame the media and how it portrays the criminals, whether it’s news outlets that mention their good looks or the posts about them that spread into a fanbase and cause more people to feel comfortable with agreeing.

  57. The rise of social media has brought about a disturbing trend of parasocial relationships, wherein people feel a connection to celebrities or even criminals. I think this phenomenon is fueled by more than just the intimate glimpses into strangers’ lives that platforms offer. Maybe certain kinds of people, younger individuals for example, are more prone to have the lapses in judgment wherein they put appearance at the top of their priorities. Regardless of age, I would like to see a a study examine the personalities and upbringings of people who are found to genuinely be infatuated with such killers/criminals to see if there are any commonalities. I also think media, movies, shows, also play a part in romanticizing these types of characters. And of course extensive media coverage surrounding these cases has contributed to the formation of devoted followings, blurring the lines between reality and fantasy. As access to criminals’ lives becomes more accessible, it is crucial to examine the psychological factors behind these relationships and their potential implications on society.

  58. This phenomenon is a confusing one. I find it hard to imagine that people are able to look past heinous crimes simply because of their own perceived attraction to the killer. Additionally, I wonder how parasocial relationships could be studied.

  59. Parasocial relationships are becoming a lot more common as people are getting more connected through social media. The concept of virality is helping propagate these parasocial relationships with celebrities and influencers. When the parasocial relationships formed concern criminals, the line gets blurry for some people. This could be harming when deciding how to deal with the extent of the crimes people commit.

  60. Its interesting to see just how much parasocial relationships are often influenced by some sort of visual or emotional appeal towards these criminals. I feel like the reason for these relationships could be highly influenced by first their physical appearance but then maybe a women’s psychological need to nurture, or protect what they think is cute, like babies. Maybe it’s infantilization. So by making these criminals these so-called “celebrities” because they’re either cute or know what to say, it kind of makes more and more people become obsessed with this idea or made up story of a criminal because its easier to be obsessed with someone that is “cute” and bad that someone that is “ugly” and bad.

  61. It’s interesting how the same parasocial relationships occur over and over again. It really does start with increased media presence, like how Ted Bundy’s trial was the first criminal trial to be nationally televised. It started with the push that the American justice system be transparent, but now with social media, I think this resulted in little control on the process. Anything can be shared online, regardless of whether or not it is true. I personally see a lot of women “falling” for men who commit heinous crimes, and I wonder why women are more susceptible to this phenomenon.

  62. The idea of parasocial relationships is honestly distasteful because it dismisses the harm done to the victims. Just because people, and especially women, think these criminals are attractive, it excuses the disgusting things they have done. It makes me sad for the families of the victims.

  63. The prevalence of parasocial relationships in today’s society, fueled by social media and extensive coverage of celebrities and criminals, is a concerning phenomenon. It is astonishing to witness how individuals can develop an attachment to criminals, such as Ted Bundy and Cameron Herrin, despite the heinous nature of their actions. The accessibility and exposure provided by media platforms may contribute to a distorted perception of connection, blurring the lines between reality and fiction in these imagined relationships.

  64. The prevalence of parasocial relationships in today’s society, fueled by social media and extensive coverage of celebrities and criminals, is a concerning phenomenon. It is astonishing to witness how individuals can develop an attachment to criminals, such as Ted Bundy and Cameron Herrin, despite the heinous nature of their actions. The accessibility and exposure provided by media platforms may contribute to a distorted perception of connection, blurring the lines between reality and fiction in these imagined relationships.

  65. As a young adult female, I notice these parasocial fascinations with criminals becoming increasingly more prevalent but I’ve only noticed this to hold true among women. I wonder if, biologically and psychologically, men are able to maintain awareness of a criminal’s wrongdoings despite their potential good looks. Additionally if there is something hardwired into us as women to make us more susceptible to being blinded by a man’s good looks, perhaps influencing us to overlook their dark past.

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