Fans of apocalyptic movies better prepared to cope with pandemic, study claims

Fans of apocalyptic movies better prepared to cope with pandemic, study claims

Movies that portray the end of the world or post-apocalyptic scenarios have helped viewers deal with the coronavirus pandemic, a study claims.

Psychologists have found that people who have been watching movies depicting social chaos and the collapse of global order are better prepared for the virus.

Fans of 'prepper' genres, including alien-invasion, apocalyptic, and zombie films, exhibited higher levels of resilience and preparedness in experiments.

Those people who had been watching horror films in the last few months also showed greater psychological resilience to the viral pandemic.

The researchers say an exposure to frightening fiction allows audiences to practice coping strategies that can be beneficial in real-world situations.

'Our ability to imaginatively inhabit virtual worlds – worlds of our own making, as well as those conveyed by movies and books – is a gift from natural selection,' study author Mathias Clasen, a psychologist at Aarhus University in Denmark, told the Guardian. 

Exploring dangerous situations in imagined worlds is also a far safer alternative to exploring these situations in the real world, and biologically they help prep our emergency and 'fight or flight' responses.

In their study, the psychologists questioned 310 people on whether they considered themselves fans of movies and TV shows of 10 genres.  

The 10 types of movies and TV shows were horror, zombie, psychological thriller, supernatural, apocalyptic/post-apocalyptic, science fiction, alien-invasion, crime, comedy and romance.

Only the prepper and horror genre variables were of interest in the analysis and the other genre variables were used to mask the intent of the study.

'Our findings add support to the idea that fiction can be a useful simulation of both specific scenarios, in the case of pandemic films, and generally fearful scenarios, in the case of horror films,' the team report in their study, which is under review at the Social Psychology and Personality Science journal.