( Lazarus, 1991). Although it may be unlikely that exposure to graphic horror is the cause of most prolonged disturbances, marked disturbances from graphic horror may be problematic in childhood development, and the learning of coping strategies during early exposure to threatening materials can play an important role in adolescent development (cf. Cantor, 1994).
According to the model, all aspects of subsequent experiences feed back to the model's antecedent conditions and influence future interactions of empathy and film content. The harms and benefits associated with these subsequent experiences are the basis for future modifications of empathic processes, stimulus conditioning, and mechanisms for coping with negative relational meanings that result from the interaction of these antecedent conditions. To the extent that this feedback strengthens empathic processes leading to involvement with fictional media, the intensity of response to graphic horror films can be expected to increase. At the same time, in large part, the hedonic quality of these responses will be governed by resulting changes in conditioned stimuli and coping mechanisms.
Issues concerning the extent to which any specific appraisal depends on environmental realities or personality factors remain to be resolved. There are so many realities in film as in life, not just one possible evaluative outcome, that it would restrict our understanding of the emotional processes to think that personality factors associated with imaginative involvement would limit viewers to only one possible experience. Instead, from all experiences made possible in environments created by film, empathic processes can determine which realities are relevant; thus, a shark is a fish, but it can also be your dinner at a restaurant, or you can be its dinner in movies.
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