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How Well Do Horror Fans Survive Real Pandemics?

As if prepared for it all their lives, fans of horror fiction plunge now into a real pandemic. A new study looks at their psychological prospects.

Pandemic Practice: Horror Fans and Morbidly Curious Individuals Are More Psychologically Resilient During the COVID-19 Pandemic,” Coltan Scrivner [pictured here, stylistically], John Johnson, Jens Kjeldgaard-Christiansen, and Mathias Clasen, PsyArXiv, 2020. (Thanks to Minna Lyons for bringing this to our attention.)

The authors, at the The University of Chicago, Pennsylvania State University, and  Aarhus University, explain:

“Conducted during the COVID-19 pandemic, this study (n = 310) tested whether past and current engagement with thematically relevant media fictions, including horror and pandemic films, was associated with greater preparedness for and psychological resilience toward the pandemic…. 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.”

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