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Why do we choose to be scared? the horror film

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on 22 April 2013

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Transcript of Why do we choose to be scared? the horror film

Reversal Theory PECMA flow - Grodal, 2009 The lure of horror:
Most explanations are Freudian Why do we choose to be scared:
The Horror Film Roxanne Armstrong-Moore, Emma Burdis, Rachel Oates, Bethany Stephenson, Jay-Jay Wait. About Us: What films succeed in making us scared and why? Beth - The strangers
Fear, anxiety, panic, shock, jumpy, who's behind the mask ? Emma - The Exorcist
I feel fear, anxiety, worried, my heart racing then relief! Jay- Woman In Black.
Scared and nervous. The dark, and sounds make it worse.
You Know something will happen, but when? Rachel- The Ring.
I feel nervous and petrified at the same time, the way the girl looks is awful and the music adds to the suspense. Evolutionary
Psychology Why Horror Films? Why has there been such a
steady increase in the amount of
horror films made?
-why do people pay to be scared?
-why are we scared of so many
different stories? Most media studies books use
examples of Freud to explain why
people like horror. However psychodynamic views are outdated, other explanations
are needed! Threat Simulation Theory Could there be a biological explanation of fear? Research has been carried out on a woman with a neurological impairment. She suffers from focal bilateral amygdala lesions. She is deemed fearless due to this localised brain damage. Instead of feeling fear (exposed to numerous different attempts to scare her) she expresses an interest and excitement in the situations. Roxanne - The Sixth Sense
I feel scared, then feel sorry for the little boy and scared for him too! Revonsuo claimed that any form of fiction such as dreaming, reading books and watching horror films are our bodies' defense mechanism of simulating threatening events and rehearsing our reactions. Fiction allows us to simulate these situations in a safe environment. The unpleasant emotions experienced by the characters of the horror film should lead to an unpleasant experience, however as a viewer high levels of anxiety lead to excitement for the audience and an overall pleasant experience. The feeling of horror and fear felt when watching a horror film allows
a safe environment to experience these emotions which then allows the individual to experience these highly arousing usually unpleasant emotions as pleasant. This can explain why individuals enjoy watching horror films, because viewing the film is in a safe environment, the feelings of emotions are reversed. High arousal when watching a horror film may cause cognitive dissonance which makes the individual experience an unpleasant state. Grodal states to a degree all individuals try to make consistent beliefs based on cognitive processes. Many horror films cause dissonance by displaying evidence of supernatural phenomena and so the emotional reaction can be very strong if the viewer hypothetically accepts the phenomena shown in the film. People experience autonomic reactions such as goose pimples, shivering when watching a horror film. These high arousal levels in horror fiction have to be hedonically re-evaluated and temporarily reversed into a positive evaluation (Grodal) Embodied Visions further describes how preferences
for violence and hide-and-seek themes reflect
our prehistoric survival needs.
It is brain mechanisms that make supernatural
stories like fairy
tales and horror stories highly interesting. There are parallels between dreams and films - both provide a safe environment in which to experience unpleasant emotions - this is similar to parapathic emotions in reversal theory. why are there so many
different 'scary'
why do so many people pay money
to experience fear ?
why are we scared of
stories we know to be
fictional ? We use:Perception - how we 'see' the film, Emotion-
how it makes us feel,
Cognition- how we 'interpret'
the film and the motor action we use whilst watching the film. This links to evolutionary theory-horror films which involve
empathizing with the characters are linked to women. These cultural differences can be used to explain differences over
time and countries in the story of the horror film which we have seen.
Culture can also link with the evolutionary theories of what types of characters we are scared of, using innate fears paired with social schematic influences. Embodied Visions explains how the architecture of the human brain explains central aesthetic features of films. We process films according to Grodal by- PECMA flow—short for “Perception, Emotion, Cognition and Motor Action.” Brain mechanisms are also involved in the film perception for example - we simulate characters, by means of mirror neurons, that induce us to simulate emotions and actions of other people.
The flow model explains how sight and sound, say the sight of a wolf approaching a character, trigger emotions, which in turn trigger cognition's about what to do, which are then implemented in actions—running, hiding or fighting. Viewers continuously simulate the flow in empathy with characters.
Our brains have a flexibility that allows for cultural variation, and cultural development enhances the means to activate our innate dispositions. Grodal uses both physical and mental theories of evolution. Grodal believes audience responses may be predicted by understanding predilections that have been bio-culturally embedded over a multi-tude of generations . PECMA flow diagram-
this shows the direction of the
PECMA flow, the eye would transfer the images
from the horror film to firstly the visual cortex and so on. How is fear produced in relation to cognition and emotion and used in horror films How is a fear produced and how do horror
films use these mechanisms to evoke fears? If a fear needs a predisposition, how does
a film make us scared using a new idea and
story? Are all fears learned?

Which brain mechanisms are involved in
producing the fear response? the response of fear therefore must involve the amygdala as damage to this means there is no fear response, this is the biological aspect of the explanation to how a fear is produced links to evolutionary theory of empathizing- we will associate ourselves with the killer in the film due to the way they are portrayed. if we know that the film belongs to the horror genre, and it is meant to elicit fear, will it automatically give this response? the audience empathize with a murderer and cannibal, why ? the audience become attached to the protagonist, they share a journey throughout the film which lead to the empathy shown by them towards human 'monsters' Hannibal : The silence of the lambs Evolutionary psychology argues fear is an
adaptation to a dangerous environment. From this Humans evolved
machinery that allowed them to overcome dangers to survival.

Fear enables us to stay away from things that could be
harmful to us by warning of potential dangers and
stimulating the fight or flight response.

Horror Films do not reflect reality, instead the represent the
psychology of our species. So, why do we choose to be scared? Fear is an emotion which is present in everyday life- the fear we feel in everyday life is often transferred into films and so we feel fear whilst watching the film. A model of fear production in real life The model applied to horror films- we used the model present in 'cognition and emotion' to understand how transferable an emotion such as fear can be. To understand why we are scared of horror films
we first need to understand how a fear is produced For an individual to be scared- they must believe that the film's storyline could actually be transferable to real life, and events they are watching may come true. these are determined by ' global evalutations' - automatic responses to the stimuli on the film according to their 'schema's' which then go onto triggering an emotional response. A Model of Grodal's theory Threat simulation theory : this suggests that we like to be scared by watching horror films as it allows us to practice threatening situations in a safe environment. PECMA flow- we process films using perception, emotion, cognition and motor action. “The primary aim of reversal theory is to show that the various aspects of a wide range of types of experience and behaviour may be explained with reference to certain pairs of states and reversals which occur between them.” (Apter, 1982). Dr. Michael Apter in The Psychologist, A Certain Blindness, 2003, 16(9), 474-475. It is assumed people do not want arousal, yet why do we pay money to go to the cinema to watch horrors and thrillers - we want to be aroused. If an individual is seeking high arousal then any emotion can provide this even fear and anxiety, yet these emotions are felt as pleasurable as the individual wants to experience them and knows they are in safety whilst doing so. These parapathic emotions are reversed, bad emotions are experienced as thrilling and arousing. Reversal Theory: We want to experience arousal, why else would we pay good money to go to the cinema to watch a horror- in the safety of the cinema, bad emotions such as fear and anxiety are reversed and are experienced as pleasurable and thrilling! Our ancestors greatest fear is that they may have been eaten by a predator, fossil evidence suggests our ancestors were preyed upon bu carnivores. Young children are fast to spot threats such as snakes and spiders when compared to modern day threats such as cars, suggesting it is hardwired to be scared of things which harmed our ancestors.
The most successful horror films tap into evolved cognitive fears, that is they show items we are already afraid of and exploit this.
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