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Horror fans coping better with coronavirus pandemic, according to research

Written by on 23 September 2020

Fans of horror films have experienced less “psychological distress” during the coronavirus pandemic, according to new research.

People who watched horror films were identified as having greater resilience.

And those who were also fans of “prepper” genres, such as apocalyptic and zombie films, were also found to be more prepared for the impact of COVID-19.

Researchers warned people shouldn’t actively seek out horror films to improve coping methods. Pic: Peter Mountain/Dna/20th Century Fox/Kobal/Shutterstock

The researchers said that despite people watching scary films for entertainment, they can also provide many learning opportunities.

The report said: “Fiction allows the audience to explore an imagined version of the world at very little cost.

“Through fiction, people can learn how to escape dangerous predators, navigate novel social situations, and practice their mind-reading and emotion regulation skills.”

It added: “One reason that horror use may correlate with less psychological distress is that horror fiction allows its audience to practice grappling with negative emotions in a safe setting.

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“Experiencing negative emotions in a safe setting, such as during a horror film, might help individuals hone strategies for dealing with fear and more calmly deal with fear-eliciting situations in real life.”

Researchers also warned that people who do not like horror films “may simply make it worse” if they seek out scary films to improve their coping methods.

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The report added: “If emotion regulation skills are what are being improved and helping people deal with the pandemic, it may also be best to watch movies that are scary to you, not movies that are considered the scariest in general.”

The research, which included 310 participants, was conducted by the Research Program for Media, Communication, and Society and the School of Communication and Culture at Aarhus University, in Denmark.