Fans of this type of movie may deal with COVID-19 pandemic better

Credit: CC0 Public Domain

In a new study, researchers found that people who like watching end-of-the-world movies may be more resilient when dealing with real-life ongoing pandemic.

The research was conducted by a team from the University of Chicago, Pennsylvania State University, and Aarhus University.

The movie industry has been cranking out end-of-the-world type movies for years—from Martians attacks and massive volcanic eruptions to asteroid strikes—and, of course, pandemics killing everyone.

Psychologists have been trying to understand why people watch such movies but have met with little success.

In this new study, the researchers looked at such movies in another way—as preparation for real-life disaster scenarios.

They wondered if watching a movie about an epidemic, such as “Contagion,” (2011) starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Matt Damon, might help people deal with a real-world pandemic.

They noted that viewership of “Contagion” rose dramatically during the first few months of the coronavirus pandemic.

In their study, the researchers tested 126 people. They asked them about themselves and whether they were fans of movies in certain genres.

They also asked them how they were feeling about the coronavirus and, of course, if they had watched the movie “Contagion.”

The team found that people who had recently watched what they describe as “prepper” movies showed higher levels of resilience to the real-world pandemic.

The finding suggests exposure to certain scenes in a movie psychologically prepared viewers for some of the events that unfolded as the real pandemic got underway.

They further found that people watching generic horror movies also reported higher levels of coping abilities during the early days of the real pandemic.

This means such movies may allow viewers to practice coping skills, which they apparently put to use if a real need arises.

One author of the study is Coltan Scrivner.

The study is available on the PsyArXiv preprint server.

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