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Marc Andersen

The Psychological Benefits of Scary Play in Three Types of Horror Fans

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Why do people seek out frightening leisure activities such as horror films and haunted attractions, and does the experience benefit them in any way? In this article, we address these questions through two separate studies. In Study 1, we asked American horror fans (n = 256) why they like horror and identified three overall types of horror fans which we term “Adrenaline Junkies,” “White Knucklers,” and “Dark Copers.” In Study 2, we collected data from Danish visitors at a haunted house attraction (n = 258) and replicated the findings from Study 1 by finding the same three types of horror fans. Furthermore, we show that these three types of horror fans report distinct benefits from horror experiences. Adrenaline Junkies reported immediate enjoyment, White Knucklers reported personal growth, and Dark Copers reported both. These results suggest that frightening leisure activities are not only an outlet for sensation- seeking, and that the allure of horror may have as much to do with learning and personal growth as it has with high-arousal fun.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Media Psychology
ISSN1864-1105
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2022

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