Zombie film fans better equipped to deal with Covid-19 pandemic, shows study

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Great films of the genre ranging from ‘Night of the Living Dead’ (1968) to some of the recent films like ‘Train to Busan'(2016) explore the similar theme.A unique research has found that fans of Zombie theme horror films dealt with the Covid pandemic more aptly as there were stark similarities between the way of living during the pandemic and the reel world shown in the Zombie films. The plot in the Zombie films progresses in a similar trajectory as the pandemic grew in proportion throughout the world. Miniscule number of zombies infect other characters in the film just like few Coronavirus patients infected huge swathes of the population with the lethal virus. The scare and fear among the uninfected characters in the film mirrors the mask-clad, sanitiser-wielding people during the Covid-19 pandemic. Great films of the genre ranging from ‘Night of the Living Dead’ (1968) to some of the recent films like ‘Train to Busan'(2016) explore the similar theme.

Similarities aside, a research published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences has found that avid fans of zombie films were not only better prepared to deal with the aftermath of the pandemic but also were least surprised with the major changes brought in their lives during the Coronavirus Lockdown. The research was conducted by Coltan Scrivner, a PhD student at the University of Chicago studying the psychology of horror along with Pennsylvania State University professor emeritus John Johnson, and Mathias Clausen and Jens Kjeldgaard-Christiansen who are Danish horror experts.

In an email interview to the Indian Express, Scrivner said zombie outbreaks were by definition similar to pandemics and characters in the film not only learn how to keep them uninfected from other zombies but also strive to find a solution to the outbreak. Scrivner however added that the degree of horror and fear in the films was exaggerated than the real life situation of a viral outbreak. Scrivner further said that watching the zombie films helped in understanding how the world looked like during the pandemic and how even the most normal activities are curtailed.

As part of the study, the researchers found that zombie film watchers knew beforehand what all things they needed to buy before the lockdown. The study also found that the zombie film fans also were least distressed during the lockdown and exhibited substantial resilience.

As part of the study, 300 participants were enrolled by the researchers who were asked a variety of questions that measured multiple dimensions of their personality like openness to experience, agreeableness, neuroticism, and extraversion. Participants were also probed about the film genre they were most interested in watching like horror, comedy, space-based, romance among others. The researchers also explained that watching zombie films might not be of much help now as the worst of the pandemic has already panned out, however, they added that more such pandemics and viral infections are bound to come in future and such films will definitely help viewers cope better next time.

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