Horror Films: Current Research on Audience Preferences and Reactions

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

dominance and Group B sensitivity and tolerance, if not submission, all this regardless of gender considerations, the socialization model would reasonably well predict these groups' behavior in response to horror -- if A and B were substituted for boys and girls or men and women.

Returning to gender socialization, it also should be clear that personality assessments other than psychological gender are potentially useful in refining the model. Traits of interest (e.g., extroversion-introversion, psychoticism, neuroticism, empathy, sensation-seeking) vary greatly within gender and have been shown to mediate emotional reactions to cinematic horror ( Edwards, 1991; Tamborini, 1991; Weaver, 1991; Zuckerman & Litle, 1986). Variance in pertinent traits presumably does not only influence interest in, and enjoyment of, cinematic horror, but probably modifies social effects as well.

Finally, it must be reiterated that the analysis of the contribution of social factors to the enjoyment of cinematic horror does not lay claim to offering a complete account of the enjoyment of horror. Numerous alternative factors are likely to contribute their part. A prime candidate is the distress-delight conversion predicted by suspense theory ( Zillmann, 1980, 1991). The more distress is experienced, the greater the euphoric reaction on its resolution ( Sparks, 1991). Cinematic horror offers the needed conditions for such transformation with considerable frequency, but numerous other contributing factors may exist, awaiting discovery.


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