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Quick Dose: Why Do People Love Horror Movies?

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Some people might love horror movies because of the emotions they feel after watching a scary movie. This theory is known as the excitation transfer process, as explained in research completed by Glenn Sparks, PhD, a professor and associate head of the Brain Lamb School of Communication at Purdue University. The excitation transfer process triggers and intensifies certain physiological responses that make you return for more. For example, if you had fun watching the scary movie with friends, instead of focusing on feeling scared during the movie, you’ll recall having a great time. You’re likely to go back to see another horror movie with that pal.

Gender socialization is another possible reason people like horror films. Research shows men enjoy scary movies more than women because they are taught to be brave and master something threatening.

Also, the visual effects and haunting music in scary movies are unusual. Psychologically, it’s normal to be curious about the use of those special effects, and to see how the lady next door will outrun a terrifying clown.

The bottom line: People are wired differently, so if some of your friends enjoy horror movies and you don’t, consider movie watching with friends who like rom-coms instead.

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