The Psychological Underpinnings of Horror Media: Survey Results and Theoretical Implications

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With empirical data from a large-scale online survey, this paper demonstrates that horror liking is a majority phenomenon and provides insight into the personality traits of horror users. A preference for horror media is predicted by the personality traits of sensation-seeking and intellect/imagination. Males are slightly more likely than females to seek out horror, and they do so more often and tend to prefer more extreme horror. The paper integrates the data from the survey into a cognitive-evolutionary theory of horror, according to which horror media function as threat simulation. Horror may provide users with psychological, behavioral, social, and moral insight; further, horror may serve as a context for the calibration of coping strategies, all of which may be adaptive.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2019
Publication statusPublished - 2019
EventSCSMI 2019: The Society for Cognitive Studies of the Moving Image - Hamburg University, Hamburg, Germany
Duration: 12 Jun 201915 Jun 2019


ConferenceSCSMI 2019
LocationHamburg University
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