Watching forensic science dramas and crime shows such as Sherlock Holmes or the CSI: Crime Scene Investigation may not give potential criminals the ability to conceal a crime, a study has found.
Challenging the so-called “CSI effect”, which claims criminals who watch crime shows are more likely to evade capture, psychologists revealed that there is no evidence of a correlation between watching forensic science shows and the ability to get away with committing a crime.
“Over many years, it was presumed that certain links in this regard exist, although there were no appropriate studies to prove this,” said Andreas Baranowski from the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz in Germany.
“We can now dispel certain of the myths that have been coursing through the media and other publications for the past 20 years because we are able to state with relative certainty that people who watch CSI are no better at covering their tracks than other people,” added Heiko Hecht, Professor at the varsity.
For the study, detailed in the International Journal of Law, Crime and Justice, the psychologists took a look at statistics from the databases of the FBI and its German equivalent, the Bundeskriminalamt (BKA), and compared the crime detection rates during the years preceding the launch of the CSI series with the subsequent rates.
The researchers put together a complex experimental design to find out whether viewers of shows like CSI would, actually be better equipped to erase the traces of an, in this case, mock crime.
The researchers did not find any connection between watching forensic dramas and the ability to successfully avoid detection after committing a crime.
However, participants working in technical professions, primarily men, appear to have certain advantages when it comes to concealing crimes.