Why Do You Watch Bloody Gory Movies, You Psycho?
March 31, 2013

Why Do You Watch Bloody Gory Movies, You Psycho?

Recent studies attempt to expose why people are attracted to watching gory, violent movies. It makes me wonder if there’s something psychologically wrong with me.

Oh, so you liked the horror movie Saw? Tell me more. You liked Saw II, as well, and III, IV, V, and VI? Give me a break! How many times can you watch people being dismembered for entertainment?

Apparently a lot, according to recent studies.

According to EurekAlert, “researchers at the University of Augsburg, Germany and the University of Wisconsin-Madison found that people are more likely to watch movies with gory scenes of violence if they felt there was meaning in confronting violent aspects of real life.”

Oh! So, it doesn’t mean you’re crazy! Maybe.

“Their study examined whether these serious, contemplative, and truth-seeking motivations for exposure to violent portrayals are more than just an intellectual pleasure.”

It seems there’s more to it than just getting off on violent, gory scenes of people being slaughtered like animals.

According to McGraw-Hill’s Access Science, “Researchers have identified various motives for viewing horror films, including the need for excitement, the desire to feel intense emotions, and distraction from everyday concerns. Although dramatic films can fulfill some of these needs, movies depicting violence and horror have features that other forms of drama do not, including the violation of social norms and the portrayal of events seldom seen in real life.”

Anne Bartsch, University of Augsburg, Germany and Louise Mares, University of Wisconsin-Madison, are set to reveal the findings of their research, “The Role of Perceived Meaningfulness in Audience Attraction to Violent Media Content: Experimental Results From Germany and the US.” at the 63rd Annual Conference of the International Communication Association, June 17-21, 2013, London, England, but in the meantime, here’s a little teaser.

“Their findings suggest that such hedonistic pleasures are only part of the story about why we willingly expose ourselves to scenes of bloodshed and aggression. Some types of violent portrayals seem to attract audiences because they promise to satisfy truth-seeking motivations by offering meaningful insights into some aspect of the human condition.”

“Perhaps depictions of violence that are perceived as meaningful, moving and thought-provoking can foster empathy with victims, admiration for acts of courage and moral beauty in the face of violence, or self-reflection with regard to violent impulses,” said Bartsch. “Examining the prevalence of such prosocial responses and the conditions under which they occur offers a theoretically intriguing and socially valuable direction for further work.”

A few years ago, in a very deep, thought-provoking, conversation with an old friend, we both came to a very insightful, scientific conclusion: neither of us cares for scary movies because, well, they’re scary.

Pretty deep, right?

Different strokes for different folks, I suppose, but if watching a violent gory movie vindicates your feelings of empathy or satisfies your needs for truth-seeking, intense emotions, then so be it.

I’m interested to learn more about why people watch these crazy films, and I’ll try and keep y’all filled in as more research is revealed in June.

Image Credit: Jeff Thrower / Shutterstock

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