The Enemy Is Fear: The Psychological Benefits of the Horror Genre Through Resilience and Coping




Waldrop, Sarah

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This thesis examines how the horror genre can psychologically benefit audiences by enabling coping mechanisms and a greater resilience to fear. The common assumption is that horror films exist merely to terrify audiences with well-timed jump scares and gory death scenes, however these films are wildly diverse in their methods of evoking fear and are far more valuable than they are often given credit for. Viewing one’s own fears through the controlled environment of fiction can allow viewers to face anxieties head on and consider ahead of time how they would cope when confronted with fear in the real world. The horror genre allows for anxieties and phobias to be captured through a large scope, employing antagonists that are truly terrifying in order to fully explore the reality of fear in a way that validates the feelings of the viewer. Existing research on the link between horror and psychology is discussed, accompanying the analysis of several horror films which deal with a variety of issues. Horror is an ideal setting to discuss some of the most serious topics of today’s society and human nature in general such as disease, misogyny, parenthood, and the broader topic of death. By analyzing films that depict these themes through the scope of horror, this thesis aims to support the idea that horror is a meaningful medium which can truly benefit viewers



film, horror, Psychology, Honors College


Waldrop, S. E. (2022). The enemy is fear: The psychological benefits of the horror genre through resilience and coping (Unpublished thesis). Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas.


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