Can an Evolutionary Analysis Dissolve the Paradox of Horror? A Quantitative Study of Individual Variables and Horror Media Use

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The paradox of horror” is the problem of why so many people are motivated to experience the negative emotions induced by horror media. In this talk, we argue that an evolutionary analysis may dissolve the paradox of horror. From an evolutionary perspective, horror may be analyzed as a simulation technology that allows users to attain adaptive experience with perceived threat and negative emotion in a safe environment. The argument is supported by results from a comprehensive MTurk survey of American users of horror media (n=1,071). Results include findings on the personal details (e.g., sex), supernatural beliefs (e.g., paranormal beliefs), personality traits (e.g., Big Five), horror genre preferences (e.g., supernatural versus natural horror), and horror-induced emotional responses of users of horror media. The strongest individual predictors of horror media enjoyment are sex (male preference), sensation seeking, and the personality characteristic Intellect/Imagination.
Original languageEnglish
Publication year19 May 2017
Publication statusPublished - 19 May 2017
EventThe 29th Human Behavior and Evolution Society conference - Boise State University, Boise, United States
Duration: 31 May 20173 Jun 2017


ConferenceThe 29th Human Behavior and Evolution Society conference
LocationBoise State University
CountryUnited States
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