Movies depicting the end of the world or post-apocalyptic scenarios — known as “prepper” movies — have helped viewers cope with the coronavirus pandemic, a study claimed last year.
Psychologists found that people who have watched movies about social chaos and the collapse of the world order are better prepared for the virus.
Fans of “prepper” genres, including alien invasion, apocalyptic and zombie movies, showed higher levels of resilience and readiness in experimentation.
The people who watched horror movies in recent months also showed greater psychological resilience to the viral pandemic.
The researchers said that exposure to frightening fiction allows audiences to practice coping strategies that can be helpful in real-world situations.
Viewers “vicariously learn” and “inadvertently rehearse the screenplays” when watching movies like Contagion and 28 Days Later, and TV shows like The Walking Dead.
Cillian Murphy in a scene from 28 Days Later, a 2002 zombie apocalypse movie. Fans of pandemic and other types of disaster movies can practice effective coping strategies that can be helpful in real-life situations
“Our ability to imaginatively inhabit virtual worlds — worlds we’ve created ourselves, as well as those conveyed by movies and books — is a gift of natural selection,” study author Mathias Clasen, a psychologist at Aarhus University in Denmark, said. the guard.
‘[It’s] a bit of biological machinery that evolved because it gave our ancestors an edge in the struggle for survival.
“If you’ve seen a lot of what we call prepper movies, you’ve seen vicarious huge social upheavals, martial law, people reacting in both pro-social and dangerously selfish ways to a sudden catastrophic event.
“Compared to someone who’s never simulated the end of the world, you’ll be in a better place because you’ll have that vicarious experience.”
The question of why people seek horrific and catastrophic situations for entertainment has long puzzled the minds of philosophers and scientists, the research team says.
It has previously been speculated that such behavior may be a form of catharsis or that the arousal generated by fearful stimuli is “inherently pleasurable.”
But these experiences can act as simulations of actual experiences from which individuals can gather important and potentially vital information.
Exploring dangerous situations in imagined worlds is also a much safer alternative to exploring these situations in the real world, and biologically they help prepare our emergency and “fight or flight” responses.
Movies about pandemics, in particular, give viewers “cheap access to information that is difficult or dangerous in the real world.”
Customers are taking some of the last of the paper towels to a Costco store in New Jersey, US, during the pandemic. Pandemic movies address possible contingencies of a viral pandemic and whether it ’causes cooperative or selfish behavior in others’
Gwyneth Paltrow and Matt Damon in the 2011 film Contagion. Views of empty shelves during the coronavirus pandemic seemed to recall scenes from the film
They deal with issues such as whether the spread of a virus causes cooperative or selfish behavior in others — such as stocking up on toilet paper and other necessities — or whether institutions will simply continue to provide their services.
Should a pandemic ever occur, this information could be quite valuable, as it could lead to better preparedness and psychological resilience, the researchers hypothesized.
As an example, the team used the 2011 film Contagion, which starred Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Winslet, Matt Damon and Jude Law and the spread of a virus transmitted by respiratory droplets.
The contamination rose from the 270th most watched Warner Bros film to the second most watched Warner Bros film three months after the Covid-19 outbreak.
It quickly became one of the most streamed movies in America, presumably due to the fact that it “depicts a realistic example of what happens during a viral pandemic,” the team says.
Gwyneth Paltrow starring in the 2011 film Contagion, in which doctors and medical researchers race to track down a highly contagious, deadly virus as it moves from Hong Kong to the U.S.
In their study, the psychologists asked 310 people whether they considered themselves fans of movies and TV shows from 10 genres.
The 10 types of movies and TV shows were horror, zombie, psychological thriller, supernatural, apocalyptic/post-apocalyptic, science fiction, alien invasion, crime, comedy, and romance.
Only the prepper and horror genre variables were of interest in the analysis, and the other genre variables were used to mask the intent of the study.
The team also took a measure of psychological resilience – “the ability to have subjectively positive experiences in a difficult time” – and mental and physical preparedness during the pandemic, assessed through questionnaires.
As predicted, fans of prepper genres were better prepared for the pandemic and experienced fewer negative disruptions in their lives during the pandemic.
Participants who had never seen a pandemic movie felt significantly less prepared for the pandemic than those who had seen several or many, while horror fandom was associated with fewer mental health problems.
Participants who had never seen a pandemic movie felt less prepared for the pandemic than those who had seen multiple or many pandemic movies. Average level of preparedness indicated by the black spot
“Our findings support the idea that fiction can be a useful simulation of both specific scenarios in the case of pandemic films, and generally terrifying scenarios in the case of horror films,” the team reports in their study, which is currently being conducted. review at the Social Psychology and Personality Sciences log.
Analysis also found that morbidly curious individuals experienced greater positive resilience during the pandemic.
Morbid curiosity is usually described as an interest or curiosity about unpleasant things related to death, and was associated with positive resilience and interest in pandemic movies, they found.
Morbidly curious individuals were more interested in morbid information about the coronavirus and more in watching pandemic and virus movies and TV shows.
Correlation between trait morbid curiosity and interest in watching a movie or TV show from movie and TV genres during the coronavirus pandemic compared to normal
They also reported more interest than non-morbidly curious individuals in learning specifically about the morbid aspects of the virus, such as seeing pictures of what coronavirus does to the body.
The link between morbid curiosity and media preferences is further explored by Coltan Scrivner, a psychologist at the University of Chicago and co-author, in a separate web post.
In recent months, Scrivner found a greater correlation between morbid curiosity and interest in watching a movie or TV show from the pandemic virus genre, compared to other genres such as romance and action.