449 Helpful Horror

Written by Robin N. Fatovic M.S.

Research by Scrivner, Coltan; Johnson, John; Kjeldgaard-Christiansend, Jens; Clasen, Mathias (2020). Pandemic practice: Horror fans and morbidly curious individuals are more psychologically resilient during the COVID-19 pandemic. Personality and Individual Differences, 168. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2020.110397

What kind of movies do you like to watch?

Psychology researchers asked, “Do horror movie fans handle stress and crises better?” They surveyed 322 U.S. participants at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic before much was known.

Results? Fans of zombie, apocalypse, and alien invasion horror movies felt more prepared for the COVID pandemic and experienced lower distress. They also reported having fewer negative impacts from the pandemic than those who did not watch these movies. Participants who reported having an interest in horror films at the time of the study were also better able to bounce back from difficult times than those who were uninterested. People labeled as “morbidly curious” also showed greater resilience. The authors described this personality trait as being genuinely intrigued by something that another person might be horrified by.

The researchers suggest these movies may allow people to learn alternative ways to react in dangerous situations. If danger occurs in real life, people may be better prepared and respond calmly. Also, by curiously observing a situation, it appears to be less of a threat. Horror films may have benefits, in addition to scaring people!

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