Why we’re horrified by gory horror films: scientists’ explanation

Bloody images can elicit different responses from one person to another: while some may enjoy watching horror films, others can’t stand the sight of blood and may even faint.

Negative feelings, associated with fear, when seeing blood make sense in the context of being prone to self-care and being of the opinion that your blood should generally be inside you rather than outside you.

“Seeing blood, you obviously know something bad is going on around you,” said Dr Joseph LeDoux, a professor of neuroscience at New York University.

“People empathically simulate, which leads to indirect unpleasant feelings,” he was added.

However, why do some people faint around blood? Because of blood pressure.

Sometimes one’s fear of blood can become so intense that it interferes with one’s life and turns into a real phobia. It is estimated that this phobia affects 3 to 4% of the world’s population.

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Fear of blood can be caused by traumatic events: ‘This could be a visit to the doctor or a childhood accident in which the person experienced intense fear. At that point, blood became associated with danger, and that association leads to fainting,” Dr. Eric Bui, acting director of the Center for Anxiety and Traumatic Stress Disorders at Massachusetts General Hospital, told AAMC.

Even so, it’s not a generally valid rule.

Why do some people like extremely gory horror movies?

On the other hand, there are those people who watch with great interest a horror movie where blood gushes out as a leitmotif.

It has been suggested that such people are “thrill seekers”. Also, as psychologist Dr. Lee Chambers told Salon, “We can consume something we see little of in real life, in a controlled and safe environment where we can test the limits of our emotional response in comfort.”

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A 2014 study titled Captivated and Grossed Out: An Examination of Processing Core and Sociomoral Dislikes in Entertainment Media, explored why some people like hardcore horror scenes.

“Disgust, it is argued here, makes us feel bad, but it has functionally evolved over time to grab our attention, thus making it a quality of entertainment messages that can keep audiences absorbed and engaged,” the study authors write.

In other words, we seem to have two categories of people: those who watch horror movies involving a lot of gore with no problem, and those who are disturbed to the point of phobia by such images.

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