Research into human cruelty leaves room for future predictions and debates

By | News & Politics
Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman, victims of Ian Huntley. Maxine Carr was also jailed. ©Sodahead

The University of Leicester have developed a groundbreaking research network, fronted by Dr Sarah Hodkingson, from the Department of Criminology, into which there will be explorations into the motives and evolvement of people such as Josef Fritzel and Ian Brady into the modern world. The research network will look to discover why people are so interested in this darker side of life, and will explore the human capacity for evil.

The research network into the extremes of human cruelty marks a precedent, as the research network will study the motivations and behaviours of those seemingly normal people who commit horrific crimes, such as murder, genocide, homicide and sexual/violent attacks. It will examine the factors that perhaps motivate such attacks, such as the individual and personal factors that may contribute, the environmental and physical factors, and sociocultural factors. It is hoped that this research network will allow those who have an interest in crime a space to form debates and discussions, and work together upon group research. Dr Hodkginson has even suggested that the research will allow for better predictions of future human cruelty. The research may also affect the way perpetrators are dealt with in the future.

Additionally, Dr Hodkingson seeks to delve into the aspect of ‘dark tourism’, tourism that includes visits to historically cruel places, such as holocaust sites or concentration camps. Dr Hodkingson asks ‘Why are we so fascinated by evil and atrocities, and what psychological need does dark tourism fulfil to people?’ The answer to this question is just one of many that she seeks to research, explore and explain.

Dr Hodkingson would like anyone who has visited a holocaust site as a tourist to contact her on sf101@le.ac.uk and tell her of their experiences as a tourist there – what is it that tourists expect from sites such as these? It is hoped that the research network will ultimately result in a range of collaborative projects that undertake studies into human cruelty and solve long lasting debates surrounding those deemed as ‘evil’, such as motivation, factors and potential of future harm.

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