Being a horror fan might help you cope with the pandemic

Fans of The Walking Dead might have an edge during the pandemic

It turns out that being a horror fan can help people cope with the pandemic. Yes, according to this study The Walking Dead fans could have better coping mechanisms than people who don’t like the genre.

There is something to be said about learning from the shows and movies that you watch. When it comes to The Walking Dead and Fear the Walking Dead, fans have seen well-prepared communities come under attack by people desperate for food and supplies. Madison and her family fought to defend their ballpark home from the menacing Vultures, a marauding group of villains who survived by pillaging groups with lots of supplies.

The message: Being prepared helps. And now there is some research that supports that idea.

A group of researchers from Penn State, University of Chicago and Aarhus University in Denmark conducted a study during the pandemic that revealed that there were differences in how people coped with the pandemic, and those that cope well have the horror genre in common. Though it hasn’t been peer reviewed yet, the study draws very solid conclusions based on their research.

It looks like horror fans who have seen this message in shows like The Walking Dead were able to approach the COVID-19 pandemic with a much better coping mechanism than people who don’t watch shows that deal with horror or apocalyptic themes.

Here is a summary of the study’s findings:

We found that fans of horror films exhibited greater resilience during the pandemic and that fans of “prepper” genres (alien invasion, apocalyptic, and zombie films) exhibited both greater resilience and preparedness. We also found that trait morbid curiosity was associated with positive resilience and interest in pandemic films during the pandemic. Taken together, these results are consistent with the hypothesis that exposure to frightening fictions allow audiences to practice effective coping strategies that can be beneficial in real world situations.

The idea of increased resilience for fans of “prepper” genres is in line with what many TWD fans already know: Those who are prepared tend to survive. When your favorite show deals with things like being prepared and, conversely, the effects of not being prepared, it does tend to change how you think.

Anecdotally, I personally credit being a fan of The Walking Dead for helping me to be prepared for the pandemic and quarantine. I’d been hearing about the pandemic in China for months and subconsciously starting stockpiling things. Instead of panic buying, I’d been buying extra items throughout January and February just in case something happened. It was part of my imaginary zombie survival strategy, and it paid off. I already had things that other people were scrambling to buy, but only because I’d been paying attention to the signs.

It’s not at all surprising that people who enjoy the horror genre are better suited to the pandemic. Horror movies feature several common traits that help protagonists survive, even if it’s simple things like running for the front door when there is a dangerous situation instead of running upstairs. (Think: The “lessons” from Scream)

What do you think about this research? Do you believe that watching horror shows and movies has helped you cope with the pandemic? Let us know in the comments!