Institute of Art Design + Technology
Dún Laoghaire

Ruth Byrne 

BSc [Hons] Applied Psychology

I'm Ruth, originally from Mayo, i have been living in Dublin the past three years and have recently completed the practice path of the Bsc in Applied Psychology in IADT. I have particular interest in New Media and Forensic psychology which evidently merged to inspired my Thesis. I have worked with a number of crisis lines during my time in college and hope to continue to do so as i work towards my goal of working in the clinical psychology sector. I am passionate about youth mental health and hope to aid in the development of digital-based mental health interventions.

Project Overview

My final year project was about the relationship between true crime streaming and the Needs for closure and Cognition. True Crime is a popular genre in streaming and podcasting, and has only grown more in popularity over the last number of years. Yet little research has focused on the medium of streaming services and furthermore, little research has been conducted on information and cognition seeking motivations behind their consumption.

Project Description

The aim of the current project was to examine the possible relationship between True Crime Streaming consumption (low, medium, high) on scores for each of the five subscales of the Need for Closure scale (which includes the Needs for the Order, Predictability and Decisiveness, Avoidance of Ambiguity, Closed-Mindedness) and Need for Cognition.

To investigate this, a between groups factorial design was implemented. Participants completed an online survey (N=59, Mean age= 27.95, Males= 50.8%, Females= 49.2%) which included the full Need for Closure scale and revised Need for Cognition scale as well as a list of True Crime series for each of the major streaming services in Ireland (six in total). These total counts of series/documentaries were compiled from each platform to form an individual's total watching score. To create the grouping variables, the total score data was split into roughly three equal groups (Low, Medium, and High). Based on their score, individuals were then placed into one of the three groups. A MANOVA and subsequent Tukey post hoc test were used to analyse the data.

Project Findings

Whilst there was no significant result for the Need for Cognition or Needs for Order, Predictability, Avoidance of Ambiguity, and Closed-Mindedness; there was for Decisiveness.

Individuals who placed in the high True Crime streaming level had lower scores of Decisiveness than those in the low level of True Crime streaming. Since decisiveness centers around the ability to make decisions quickly, the results suggest that individuals who watch more true crime have less desire to 'freeze' on information. Gendi et al. (2023) found that the need and ability to achieve closure are negatively correlated, which could suggest that those who watch more true crime may have a better ability to achieve closure, than those who watch less.

Building on this, combining both the high consumption of content and the relationship to Decisiveness (as both a Need and ability), may pose a threat to verdict and result in the possibility of hung juries. With the proliferation of such content online where ‘live’ updates are occurring pre-trial brings into question a multitude of legal and ethical dilemmas.Therefore, possibly having practical implications reaching into both real life cases and the subsequent criminal prosecution.

Thesis Title

The relationship between True Crime Streaming and Needs for Closure and Cognition.