Horror Films: Current Research on Audience Preferences and Reactions

By James B. Weaver III; Ron Tamborini | Go to book overview

fact that monitoring and blunting tendencies might arise because of particular patterns of socialization and past experience. This possibility might be suggested in the finding that there is a greater tendency in the general population toward monitoring. Monitoring strategies may be more socially acceptable and reinforced in various ways during one's life ( L. Trachtman, personal communication, 1991). This explanation for differences in preferred coping style would stand in contrast to one that argued that these differences were the product of hard-wired behavioral dispositions.

Ultimately, researchers working in the activation-arousal framework need to specify concrete links between the underlying neurophysiological systems and observable behaviors that can be observed and measured systematically. Unless these links can be established, the usefulness of the activation-arousal framework for studying emotional reactions to horror will remain limited.


SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS

This chapter has argued in favor of a dispositional view of emotion by pointing out that emotional experience is anchored in "hard-wired" mechanisms. Evidence for individual differences in physiological responding and in early temperament were offered as support for the dispositional view. The activation-arousal framework is one example of a dispositional view of emotion that could have potential for studies on reactions to media horror. Miller's work on preferred coping style was linked to the activation-arousal view and several studies indicate the utility of the coping style concept for understanding emotional responses to horror.

Despite the evidence presented, the major thrust of this chapter must be framed in "exploratory" terms. Although there is abundant evidence in favor of the dispositional view of emotional experience, the application of the activation-arousal view to the study of reactions to media horror has only begun. The recent evidence that suggests a relationship between preferred coping style and emotional responses to horror provides some sense of the kind of heuristic value such an approach may offer. Future research should concentrate on establishing more concrete links between the activation-arousal systems and specific emotional and behavioral responses. Such a move is critical if the activation-arousal view is to show any ultimate promise as a viable perspective on emotional responses to media horror.


REFERENCES

Andreassi J. L. ( 1989). Psychophysiology: Human behavior & physiological response ( 2nd ed.). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Baggett A. T. ( 1967). "The effect of early loss of father upon the personality of boys and girls in late adolescents". Dissertation Abstracts, 28( 1-b), 356-357.

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