Why scary movies are helping some people cope with the pandemic – UChicago News

One of his favorite projects involves a cabinet of curiosities that he curated with items from online vendors on Etsy and from Woolly Mammoth, an eclectic store in the Andersonville neighborhood of Chicago. The study examined participants morbid curiosity about strange objects at three levels: by looking at them (visual), by touching them (tactile) and by reading about them (epistemic).

Scrivner stocked the cabinet with both morbid and non-morbid items for which he had written interesting histories, including a psych report for serial killer Ed Gein, an old copy of Chaucers works, a cursed exorcism medallion, a seal and wax used in Game of Thrones and morticians tools.

Participants viewed the cabinet while wearing eye-tracking glasses. First, they inspected for 90 seconds without instructions, as if they were visiting a museum. Then, while wearing gloves, they were allowed to pick up and examine five items of their choice. Finally, they were asked if they wanted to read the stories behind another five items.

The idea is to tease apart whether morbidly curious people are really more epistemically curioustheyre not interested in doing violent things, right? said Scrivner, who has paused data collection on the project due to the pandemic. So maybe they will be interested in looking at or reading about something scary, but will only want to touch things that arent.

Scrivner also has a study coming out in Psychological Science this fall about another seasonally appropriate topic: haunted houses.

In 2017, when data for the forthcoming paper were collected, Scrivner began a collaboration with Mathias Clasen, a researcher at Aarhus University in Denmark with similar interests. With colleagues Marc Andersen and Uffe Schjoedt, they studied visitor responses to scary stimuli at a local haunted tourist attraction.

To do so, they triangulated three different kinds of data: physiological data from heart rate monitors, self-reported levels of fear and fun for visitors after they exited the haunted house and behavioral expressions of fear by coding videos of their reactions to frightening events.

We showed that theres an optimum level of fear, essentially a sweet spot, Scrivner said. The basic idea is that people regulate how immersed they are in the haunted house and how much emotional arousal they are willing to experience in order to maximize their level of fun.

With Halloween around the corner, Scrivner is getting ready to celebrate himself.

I usually like to catch a haunted house or two during October and binge a few horror movies that Ive been wanting to watch, he said. And, of course, curate my spooky Spotify playlist.

His own favorite horror movies include Hereditary and other films by Ari Aster. He also likes the work of directors Jason Blum (Paranormal Activity, Insidious and The Purge), Mike Flanagan (The Haunting of Hill House) and James Wan (Saw and The Conjuring Universe).

But if youre not a horror fan, 2020 may be scary enough, according to Scrivner. Not everyone is equally morbidly curious, and for some people, the visceral feelings that such films can present outweigh their entertainment value.

People tend to know themselves well enough to decide whether or not it would be a good idea to try watching something scary, he said.

Read the rest here:

Why scary movies are helping some people cope with the pandemic - UChicago News

Related Post

Comments are closed.