Why Binge-Watching ‘Law And Order’ Is A Great Idea, According To Science

Academic studies can be fascinating… and totally confusing. So we decided to strip away all of the scientific jargon and break them down for you.

The Background

Watching “Law & Order” is a lot like eating Oreos — once you start, you can’t stop. But how does watching all of that trauma and sexual violence affect our psyches? Previous studies on crime shows has suggested that the genre has a positive effect on attitudes toward sexual assault. Researchers from Washington State University, however, had a hunch that not all crime shows are created equal when it comes to promoting healthy beliefs about this type of violence. In their new study, they pitted the “Law & Order,” “NCIS” and “CSI” franchises against one another to see how they each stacked up.

The Setup

The researchers had 313 freshman students at a large Northwestern university take a survey in which they reported how often they watched crime dramas like “Law & Order,” “NCIS” and “CSI,” and how much attention they paid to them. The survey also assessed how much participants subscribed to rape myths, like, “If a woman is raped while she is drunk, she is at least somewhat responsible for letting things get out of control,” as well as their intentions to seek and adhere to sexual consent, and how often they were able to refuse unwanted sexual activity.

Since the sample included a mix of men and women from different backgrounds, the researchers controlled for participants’ gender, previous experience with sexual assault and how often they viewed television and crime dramas specifically.

The Findings

Out of the three crime dramas in the study, “Law & Order” was the one that seemed to promote healthy ideas around sexual assault. Watching the franchise was associated with —> Read More