Why Do We Enjoy Scary Movies?


  • Sofie Vittrup Aarhus University




horror studies, recreational fear, The Conjuring, fear-management strategies, survival strategies, morbid curiosity, Recreational Fear: Scientific, Historical, and Aesthetic Perspectives


Why do people enjoy scary media? The horror genre is designed to elicit negative emotions such as fear and anxiety in its audience and yet the horror entertainment industry is thriving. This question, referred to as the paradox of horror, is the focal point of this article. Through an evolutionary framework, I provide support for the view of horror movies as being biologically adaptive. Human beings are biologically wired with survival strategies to predict and respond to danger, and horror entertainment allows for effective and safe vicarious learning that in turn helps us prepare for dangerous situations in real life. Through an analysis of the movie The Conjuring (2013), this article explores how exactly horror movies target and engage evolved fear mechanisms in order to captivate and engage the audience.


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How to Cite

Vittrup, S. (2022). Why Do We Enjoy Scary Movies?. Leviathan: Interdisciplinary Journal in English, (8), 11–30. https://doi.org/10.7146/lev82022132076