Horror Movie Fans Are Coping Better With Pandemic, Study Says
I’m one of those strange individuals who finds watching horror films to be relaxing, with tension and supernatural themes actually helping to alleviate any real world anxieties bubbling below the surface.
Over lockdown, I’ve spent many an evening watching scary movies old and new, hiding behind my fingers during Zoom-based horror Host, or and creepy ’70s classic, Suspira.
So I’ve been delighted to learn that my morbid taste in movies has in fact proven beneficial to me over the course of the pandemic, preparing me for disaster and helping me cope better than those who prefer a gentle romcom.
This is according to a study that was recently published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences, with a group of US and Danish researchers examining whether or not ‘extreme feelings’ elicited by frightening films could actually prove beneficial to our mental health during such uncertain times.
Researchers recruited 310 participants, quizzing them about their preferred genres of film and TV shows, and whether or not they watched pandemic-related movies.
Participants were also asked about the extent to which they agreed or disagreed with 13 statements about their emotional states and outlooks during the pandemic, as a measure of their psychological resilience.
This included statements such as ‘compared to how I usually feel, I have been more nervous and anxious during the pandemic’ and ‘I have found some aspects of the pandemic to be interesting’. Participants rated their feelings on a 7-point scale, from ‘strongly disagree’ to ‘strongly agree’.
In the study, psychological resilience during the pandemic was measured as the ability to show ‘more positive experiences/emotional states (positive resilience) or fewer negative experiences/emotional states (psychological distress)’.
It was discovered that horror fans and those who ‘engaged more frequently with frightening fictional phenomena’ had experienced lower levels of psychological distress over the pandemic than those who preferred other types of films.
According to the study authors:
We found that fans of horror films exhibited greater resilience during the pandemic and that fans of ‘prepper’ genres (alien-invasion, apocalyptic, and zombie films) exhibited both greater resilience and preparedness.
We also found that trait morbid curiosity was associated with positive resilience and interest in pandemic films during the pandemic.
Taken together, these results are consistent with the hypothesis that exposure to frightening fictions allow audiences to practice effective coping strategies that can be beneficial in real-world situations.
A perfect excuse for some spooky nights in now Halloween is well on the way.
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