People who watch apocalyptic movies more are stronger than those who are not exposed to such movies, when it comes to coping with pandemic, small team of researchers have discovered.
Researchers from the University of Chicago, Pennsylvania State University, and Aarhus University have written a paper which is available on the PsyArXiv preprint server.
Psychologists have been trying to understand why people watch movies which have martians attacks, massive volcanic eruptions and such things in their storylines. But they have failed to get convincing answers.
In this new effort, the researchers looked at such movies in another way—as preparation for real-life disaster scenarios.
They wondered if watching a movie about an epidemic, such as “Contagion,” (2011) starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Matt Damon, might help people deal with a real-world pandemic.
They noted that viewership of “Contagion” rose dramatically during the first few months of the coronavirus pandemic. To find out why, and whether watching the movie helped viewers, the researchers turned to Prolific—an online recruitment tool that allows researchers to connect with volunteers virtually.
For their study, the researchers queried 126 individuals—notably, each of them was paid for their efforts. The researchers asked them about themselves and whether they were fans of movies in certain genres. They also asked them how they were feeling about the coronavirus and, of course, if they had watched the movie “Contagion.”
The researchers found that people who had recently watched what they describe as “prepper” movies showed signs of higher levels of resilience to the real-world pandemic. They suggest exposure to certain scenes in a movie psychologically prepared viewers for some of the events that unfolded as the real pandemic got underway. They further note that people watching generic horror movies also reported higher levels of coping abilities during the early days of the real pandemic.