Horror Films: Current Research on Audience Preferences and Reactions

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

Chapter 11
Horror's Effect on Social Perceptions and Behaviors

Ron Tamborini and Kristen Salomonson Michigan State University

Social research has a long history of investigations looking at the determinants of perception and behavior associated with various environmental features. When these investigations have considered the role of communication stimuli, they have often focused on violent and horrific content. Although there is reason to posit that this type of content has functional outcomes for the development and governance of a person's emotional well-being, its impact on outcomes pertaining to other individuals remains an issue of great concern. Critical research on aspects of person perception involve interpersonal attraction and perceptions of victims of violence. At the same time, research on social behavior has concentrated on aggression and social support. This chapter attempts to explore these issues as they relate to fictional horror.


SOCIAL JUDGMENTS

Extensive research on the determinants of social judgments has focused on both cognitive and affective operations related to perception. Research in this area has paid particular attention to the influence of affect and cognition on both the availability of information for use in decision making and the different processing strategies employed with information available. In conjunct these factors play a critical role in determining the outcome of social judgments. Understanding this role can provide greater insight to the impact of fictional horror on person perception.


Availability of Information

One of the most popular areas of study in affect and cognition focuses on mechanisms governing attention. The literature claims that environmental

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