Male And Female Serial Killers Choose Their Victims Differently

While Ted Bundy, the famous American serial killer is the controversial star of this new year with a documentary series on Netflix and ...



While Ted Bundy, the famous American serial killer is the controversial star of this new year with a documentary series on Netflix and a biopic soon to be released, a team from the Department of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, USA, has just uncovered behavioural differences between male and female serial killers. Conducted on 55 serial killers and 55 serial killers, the study reveals that men and women do not choose their victims in the same way.

Men tend to hunt down their victims, as would a hunter with his prey. They generally target foreign or foreign completes. On the contrary, women choose their victims from among their entourage, in a more or less restricted circle of acquaintances. Serial male killers are six times more likely to kill a stranger. Women are twice as likely to attack a familiar face. Another difference is that more than 65% of men harassed, followed or spy on their victims, compared to only about 3.6% of women. Gender profiling that could help investigators identify the culprit, according to Marissa Harrison, a professor of psychology at Pennsylvania State University.

An evolutionary legacy?

For scientists, these behavioural differences could be a legacy of our hunter-gatherer ancestors. "Historically, men hunted animals as predators, while women were responsible for gathering nearby resources, such as seeds and plants for food," says Marissa Harrison. As an evolutionary psychologist, I wonder if behaviors inherited from this distribution of roles could influence the way serial killer men and women choose their victims."

Beyond the behavioural differences of serial killers, gender also influences the representation of their crimes in the media. While men often receive nicknames that illustrate their brutality, such as Jack the Ripper, Head Unshackle, Milwaukee Cannibal or Acid Bath Killer, women are referred to as Jolly Jane, Tiger Woman, the Lady of Death... Differentiated media treatment that also influences the perception of killer couples, a scenario in which women are often suspected of being under the influence of their partners, such as Ian Brady and Myra Hindley, Fred and Rosemary West or, more recently, this Mexican couple, arrested for the murders of 20 young women.

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