Psychological Factors That Determine Whether We Enjoy a Horror Film
The Psychological factors that determine whether we enjoy a horror film are not entirely clear. Several factors may influence our preference for graphic horror. In this article, we examine what predicts men's and women's preference for graphic horror films. This article is also relevant for children. It provides some insight into the psychological influences of horror. There are some important psychological factors that are associated with a man's and a woman's preference for horror films.
Psychological factors associated with enjoyment of horror films
Although many people enjoy the adrenaline rush of watching horror films, they also tend to have negative psychological reactions. This is because some people have difficulty filtering out the unpleasant stimuli and are more sensitive to these types of horror films. The thalamus is the region of the brain that controls where incoming sensory data is sent. The hippocampus, which stores memories, interprets and processes sensory data, and the amygdala, which determines potential threats, are also involved in screening out unwanted stimuli. Lastly, the hypothalamus activates the fight-or-flight response in the event of a threat.
Interestingly, while sensation seeking is strongly associated with enjoyment of horror films, it is not the most important factor for predicting attendance at horror films. According to a study by Tamborini and Stiff, this factor does not predict horror film attendance. A total of 155 people (72 men and 53 women) with an average age of 21 years were interviewed about their attendance at horror films. A majority of participants stayed after the film had ended.
Gender differences in portrayals of violence are also found among men and women. Men are more likely to watch films that contain graphic images, while women and girls do not. One explanation for men's preference for graphic horror is gender socialization, whereby boys and men are encouraged to express fear in a non-sexist manner. Girls, on the other hand, are encouraged to express their sensitive side by being disturbed and disoriented.
Psychological factors that predict preference for graphic horror in men
Researchers have found that a man's preference for graphic horror movies is more similar to a woman's than vice versa. Women are more likely to like a movie with a happy ending while men tend to prefer horror with intense acts. Psychological factors that predict preference for graphic horror in men include a man's tendency to be a Machiavellian. These factors may be linked to how the brain reacts to different horror films.
Moreover, individuals who have lower empathy may enjoy the films more than those who are more empathic. Empathic people are more likely to react negatively to distress situations they witness. While men are more likely to enjoy graphic horror than women, this does not explain why men have a lower empathy level. Men are more aggressive and seek thrills in a film's violent content. Although the findings are contradictory, men seem to enjoy horror films more than women.
Moreover, a high level of sensation-seeking is associated with a higher desire to watch graphic horror. A low-level trait may cause people to find horror experiences unpleasant. As an additional predictor of men's preference for graphic horror, openness to experiences is also a strong predictor. People who have greater openness to experience the horror genre are more likely to watch it. These findings suggest that these psychological factors play an important role in men's preference for graphic horror.
Psychological factors that predict preference for horror in children
In one study, researchers tested the relationship between personality traits and past viewing experiences to determine whether they were more likely to like horror movies than other films. The subjects ranked preference for 13 film descriptions in which a female or a male character was the victim. The results showed that a person's Machiavellian trait of deceit and exposure to horror films were both associated with higher movie preferences.
Individual differences in empathy are also associated with a greater interest in horror. People who are highly empathic often experience distress in situations that are averse to their own. However, those who have low empathy may find horror more to their liking. If this is the case, children and adolescents may not find horror appealing. Therefore, these films may not be a good fit for people with low empathy. Psychological factors that predict preference for horror in children are discussed below.