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Thread: Horror Films

  1. #1 Horror Films 
    Forum Junior epidecus's Avatar
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    How does viewing them affect people's behavior and thoughts?

    Intuitively, a frequent viewer of horror films should gradually become less affected by the "scariness" of the films. This might translate into normal life with the person being less emotional and more decisive in truly scary situations... being less prone to pop-up scares, unmoved by gory scenes, etc.

    Then again, some people may become more prone to being scared. The person viewing a horror movie now has the thought of the monster or evil force in his/her head. Though the person knows it was only a movie, the sense of dread may return at times, and the person may again become scared in certain situations (i.e. being alone in the dark, hearing a suspicious noise). This might be especially true for ordinary people unfamiliar with the horror genre who are suddenly exposed to an intense horror film.

    So what do you think? Any studies related to this?


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  3. #2  
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    There's certainly some evidence about desensitisation to violence through films, TV and games.

    This item is a start. Video Games Desensitize to Real Violence | Psych Central News

    Searching on that site might lead to more.


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  4. #3  
    Forum Ph.D. Raziell's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by adelady View Post
    There's certainly some evidence about desensitisation to violence through films, TV and games.

    This item is a start. Video Games Desensitize to Real Violence | Psych Central News

    Searching on that site might lead to more.
    Isnt the opposite true aswell? That some people use violent videogames and movies as an outlet and a form of catharsis, making them less likely to cause violence in real life?
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    I think that idea came from criminal profiling where serial-killer will videotape their murder so they can watch it over and over again (satisfying their fantasy) rather than killing another victim. Its like watching porn rather than doing it... -Its for relieving that fantasy urge I guess.

    But desensitized to violence is not reliving fantasy, instead its a NEW exposure*. ie: Watching people explode, or hand ripped off when tied to a truck, or person being slaughtered like animal and not flinched about it (eg: terrorist video).

    *One might not have such fantasy of murdering people, but could it be OK to watch these violence video? or is it not OK because it made you less innocent? I don't know... but surely it will numb our soul.
    Last edited by msafwan; October 7th, 2012 at 05:07 AM.
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  6. #5  
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    But that idea that people fantasise rather than engaging in, or enjoying, violence is coming under a bit of revision.

    It's a bit like the old-fashioned notion that you get rid of negative emotions by expressing them. Brain plasticity - along with a bit of common sense - tells us that what you do more often is what you will tend to do more often. It's also the idea underlying processes like Cognitive Behavioural Therapy where people are trained away from negative or unproductive thought processes - because the more often you tell yourself you're useless or ugly or stupid, the more likely you are to think that in the future.

    My feeling is that the scientific data collection and analysis on the violence issue - desensitisation/reinforcement versus substitution/release - has a good long way to go yet.
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  7. #6  
    Forum Junior epidecus's Avatar
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    Thanks for the answers guys, but the violence issue isn't really what I was asking about

    Does viewing horror films generally make people more courageous and decisive in scary situations? Will frequent viewing make us less prone to being scared?

    Also, why do the physical appearances of monsters, demons, and such creatures reflexively give us a sense of dread?
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  8. #7  
    Forum Bachelors Degree dmwyant's Avatar
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    An interesting aspect of horror/gore/violence is that high degrees of exposure can also result in the direct opposite effect. Rather than being desensitized the subject can become so sensitive to the violence/horror/gore that they can become physically ill. At a few points in history attempts were made to "reprogram" violent subjects by exposing them to continuous violent images. This has been used as elements of film and fiction as well. An excellent example is 'A Clockwork Orange' I recommend one reads the book before watching the film and be aware that both contain graphic scenes of violence and sexual violence. As to the efficacy of "aversion therapy" the jury is still out.
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    Well we watch horror movies to get a kick out of our natural instincts, and our natural instincts are fight or flight, so when you're stuck in a movie theater you can't do either so now you have a third option (fright). You scream like a girl hoping to be saved by some super hero. Leaving the theater are you more courageous? no. Because now if in real life you're stuck in a situation that involves fight or flight, You'll probably shout/scream before running away or attacking.
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  10. #9  
    Forum Bachelors Degree dmwyant's Avatar
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    epidecus,
    It will most certainly depend on the individual. I do not think that simply watching films that depict scary/gory situations will make a person respond effectively when they are placed in said situation. Learning how to respond to a situation takes repeated training. It is part of the reason that police and military have gone to the use of sim-munitions. For those unfamiliar, a sim-munition is basically a paintball round fired with gunpowder and packed in a standard cartridge allowing those involved to train with the same weapons they carry. The use of this allows the various forces to train and learn how to respond in high stress scary situations.
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  11. #10  
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    epidecus, this is an interesting idea that I've wondered myself. After reading a few papers on the topic of violent media I came to the conclusion that courageous and decisive don't necessarily go together. It seems that violent media will, in general, give the viewer a more aggressive demeanor, and this may make the person more "courageous and decisive" in the sense that they might be more willing to stand up to someone that threatens them personally. But at the same time, it also numbs the viewer to the pain of others, meaning they are less likely to respond to another person in distress (or just take longer to respond), because they won't even notice that a person is in distress. A couple of the journal articles I read: [1][2] I also liked some of the ideas in this less scholarly blip at Psychology Today, which hint at a reason, though the language gets a bit muddled at the end.
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  12. #11  
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    It certainly is an interesting idea and although I haven't looked through all the research in this area, a few concerns came to mind regarding sampling method. First, not all horror movies are the same in terms of the scare factor, gore, violence, monsters, etc... . If you take something such as Hostel I or II, or the Saw movies, they're mostly gore but no monsters. On the other hand, Signs has monsters but no gore. My point is, the movies people watch may also affect the overall results but some of these categories are highly subjective, especially the scare factor. For some people, it may be a particular theme they find frightening, such as clowns and not the gore. Second, many people watch horror movies when they're with someone else, either at home or in the theater. There may be a social factor to consider as well, such as one audience member is spooked by a fellow audience member's shriek, causing the first one to be more alert and potentially more susceptible to being scared than before. Overall though, I would imagine a person becomes more courageous and decisive for defending themselves. Not everyone would be as scared or as courageous in the first place before any exposure to the horror movie, which is an equally interesting area.
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    I personally dislike horror films and find them scary, but in real life I deal very well with horror. I worked for years as night staff in an inner city emergency room. I have been an EMT and a ski patroler. For the past 22 years I have been a nurse in a major free standing psychiatric hospital and I am currently a night supervisor there. I do "Emergency" very well, keeping calm and cool under pressure, but horror movies , even silly ones, still creep me out. I think it is the creepy background music.
    Real life does not have a sound track.
    Last edited by Sealeaf; October 9th, 2012 at 06:38 AM.
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  14. #13  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sealeaf View Post
    I personally dislike horror films and find them scary, but in real life I deal very well with horror. I worked for years as night staff in an inner city emergency room. I have been an EMT and a ski patroler. For the past 22 years I have been a nurse in a major free standing psychiatric hospital and I am currently a night supervisor there. I do "Emergency" very well, keeping calm and cool under pressure, but horror movies , even silly ones, still creep me out. I think it is the creepy background music.
    Real life does not have a sound track.
    Thought of real life having a soundtrack for occuring events made me laugh loud
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    I think there was an episode of Family Guy where Peter hires a mariachi band to follow him around and provide the soundtrack for his life.
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  16. #15  
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    Quote Originally Posted by dmwyant View Post
    epidecus, It will most certainly depend on the individual.
    I'd agree here. I believe all people are more naturally dispositioned to either "fight" or "flight". Then again, there's the third option of freezing up in terror, which usually doesn't end well in dangerous situation...

    Though this may apply for generally dangerous situations, what do you think of simply scary places? How will a normal person differ in response compared to an intense horror fan?
    Last edited by epidecus; October 11th, 2012 at 09:28 PM. Reason: Fixed broken tags.
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  17. #16  
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    I think a horror film pertains to the fears of the current generation. Whatever values are held dear then the opposite of such is classed as 'horror'. When people are entertained and enjoy horror they are perhaos psychopaths or persons with psychopathic disorders, even if not diagnosed. Or they do not hold the ideals that others do and are simply not affected by the horror films. Saw is a particular example, it has gained a cult like following. I have never watched the films myself in full, they just seem all gore and shock value not entertaining at all just gratious violence motivated by nothing and with no plot development. Usually a good horror film will follow a person whom you can attach yourself with emotionally, take Silence of the Lambs for instance. You relate with the fears of Clarice and yet are equally charmed by Dr Lecter, thus you feel as Clarice feels and moreover, your charm from Hannibal makes you bypass his actions as 'shocking', which is why it is such a brilliant horror film.

    Horror films affect the feelings and behaviors of the people watching them. I for instance used to believe in Ghosts very strongly, therefore ghost films would scare me and being in the dark would. Since I abandoned my belief in them, they are no longer scary. Why? Well if they aren't real I am not threatend by them, therefore the film has no emotionally tied need to make me feel scared as my safety isn't in jeapordy because what I would be afraid of doesn't exist. Perhaps when it comes to Saw films people feel not scared because it isn't really scary, just blood. Yet someone who has had a bad experience with say murder, or rape may find that theme disturbing and ellicit repressed emotions when viewing the film.

    So previous experiences, belief systems and value systems being threatend or surfacing will conflict with the ego and to which to protect you will deny you, or tell you that the film is scary, or to be feared in order to ellicit you to attack or run away from the medium causing this confliction of emotions.
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