Horror movie fans can better handle pandemic stress, study finds

The COVID-19 pandemic has greatly increased stress levels among the general public — the concerns range from unemployment to more extreme things like fears about the breakdown of society or widespread death. New research has found that some people are better able to handle this stress than others, and they're also more likely to love horror movies.

The idea that horror movies and other scary materials may help someone psychologically prepare for and cope with a future real-life situation isn't new. Horror movies, haunted houses, and other scary things are a safe way for someone to experience a threatening scenario, work out their emotions related to it, and even inspire ideas on how the one would handle these problems themselves.

This may explain why the older movie Contagion, which tells a story of a somewhat more dramatic coronavirus pandemic, skyrocketed in popularity earlier this year as the pandemic status grew more certain. The movie provided the public with a look at an unfamiliar scenario, potentially helping them feel more capable of handling the real pandemic as it played out.

A newly 'pre-printed' study has found that people who like to watch horror movies and who are, generally speaking, of the "morbidly curious" sort, are more resistant to the stresses of the COVID-19 pandemic. The researchers state that viewing these movies may be a type of coping strategy that helps prepare someone for adverse events.

The study found that people who describe themselves as fans of horror movies are more resilient toward the global pandemic compared to those who aren't fans. As well, horror fans who particularly like movies based on 'prepping' of some sort, such as zombie and apocalyptic movies, were not only more resilient but also more likely to be prepared for the pandemic.