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Biochemical responses to horror, or, ‘why do we like this stuff?’

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‘Biochemical responses to horror, or, “Why do we like this stuff?”’ analyses human’s enigmatic interest in horror narrative. Analyses to date have been oversimplified, and overlook essential conditions and responses that take place during the consumption of horror narrative. A key misunderstanding is that the central question of the interest in horror is understood to be ‘Why do we find gratification in what by nature is so disturbing and disagreeable?’ This approach overweighs the enjoyment that horror consumers feel, and ignores the fear response. The fear response is the starting point of any analysis of human interest in horror. This key emotional reaction is tightly linked to goal-directed, advanced cognition in humans, with these conditions functioning in feedback looping mechanisms in human psychology and physiology. This interplay is further conditioned within a framework of socio-biological conditions and adaptive pressures. The socio-biological framework and adaptive pressures yield other effects in human personality and society that also condition and add elements to the human interest in horror narrative. I argue that the most precise and comprehensive explanation of human interest in horror narrative is a sundry synthesis of scientific and sociological fundamentals.
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Keywords: culture; emotion; evolution; fear; film studies; horror cinema; horror fiction

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: National Taipei University of Business

Publication date: 01 April 2017

More about this publication?
  • Horror Studies intends to serve the international academic community in the humanities and specifically those scholars interested in horror. Exclusively examining horror, this journal will provide interested professionals with an opportunity to read outstanding scholarship from a variety of disciplinary perspectives, including work conceived as interdisciplinary. By expanding the conversation to include specialists concerned with diverse historical periods, varied geography, and a wide variety of expressive media, this journal will inform and stimulate anyone interested in a wider and deeper understanding of horror
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