Ever wondered why you like Horror/Scary movies? What is the psychology of the horror movie fan, plus do they have common personality traits? I will be using the Myers Briggs Type indicator and the Big Five Traits personality models, plus other psychological motivations and concepts to try and explain it.
Why do so many people want to be scared? It sounds strange, however many people actually enjoy being terrified by a really scary movie, including myself. When we get scared it triggers our survival instincts to kick in, fight or flight responses are located in the very old parts of the brain, the limbic system, often referred to as the reptilian brain.
Our heart rates and blood pressure increase, and our bodies start to produce adrenaline. This is similar to what motivates thrill seekers, that adrenaline rush is addictive. It makes us feel more alive and it’s a major reason why so many people love horror movies.
In some of us these instincts seem to be more easily triggered. Some so much that they cannot even watch a scary movie, while others may get very little reaction.
Psychology & Traits of the Horror Movie Fan
Those that really love movies tend to be more introverted, watching movies can be a great way to unwind by themselves. High in trait openness will often be a common trait movie lovers share. Movies are a form of art (some movies anyway), and those high in openness often tend to be creative themselves, or simply appreciate art, beauty, movies and music more than the average.
There are a few different types of horror movies, and personality traits will differ depending on the type.
There is the slasher style, like the Scream and Halloween movies. Slashers usually just include a human psychopath style serial killer. For those that only like this type of horror, they are very likely to be a sensation type, or sensor on the MBTI model. These people like more realistic stories, very in tune with their five sensors, they live in the moment and are very observant to reality. They are practical thinkers and realists.
Those who like horror or scary movies more like the Paranormal Activity, or Insidious movies, will be leaning more towards to intuitive personality type. Intuitive types are often fascinated with the unknown and the spiritual. Intuitive types are often more imaginative, they look for patterns and connections and tend to focus on the big picture. Their big imaginations require mystery, they gravitate to the unknown and look for greater forms of escapism, this includes monsters and aliens as-well. They’re also often fans of fantasy and science fiction movies for the same reasons.
If your preference is for the more gory style of horror, like the Saw movies or the Texas Chainsaw Massacre, you’re probably low in the trait of neuroticism. You do not easily become stressed or anxious. You are also probably low in trait orderliness, which includes disgust sensitivity. Being low in the emotion of disgust means you are able to tolerate those gory mutilation scenes, maybe even enjoy it, if you’re perhaps a little disturbed.
Zombie movies overlap with the supernatural and the gory style of horror, however there is something uniquely different about zombie movies. Zombie movies are very much survival combined with apocalyptic, isolationist environments and stories.
Introverts that are in tune with their basic survival instincts are probably the main fan of this style of movie. As-well as the thrill of having their instincts engaged, they also get to immerse themselves in a world with less people, something they secretly, or sometimes not so secretly desire.