Fans of Doomsday Movies Are Better at Coping With Coronavirus, Research Shows

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From the department of We Knew It All Along: folks who love apocalyptic movies are better equipped to deal with the mental mania of life during the coronavirus pandemic. Fans of films such as "Contagion," which is currently experiencing a jolt of popularity, are more conditioned to cope with health crises, new research shows.

“If it’s a good movie, it pulls you in and you take the perspective of the characters, so you are unintentionally rehearsing the scenarios,” said Coltan Scrivner, a psychologist who specializes in morbid curiosity at the University of Chicago.

“We think people are learning vicariously. It’s like, with the exception of the toilet paper shortage, they pretty much knew what to buy," Scrivner told The Guardian.

Researchers asked 310 respondents about their viewing preferences and histories before questioning them about how they felt as the epidemic progressed and to describe their levels of depression, anxiety, irritability and sleeplessness.

Doomsday fans seemed less upset by the pandemic, and folks who loved "prepper" movies, in which the world as we know it collapses, were much better with the practical and mental struggles of dealing with COVID-19.

“You’ve seen it a hundred times in the movies, so it doesn’t catch you off-guard so much,” Scrivner said. The films also provide viewers to envision what they would do if the onscreen virus horrors of films such as "Contagion" and "Outbreak" happened in real life.

“For the cost of a bad dream one night, you can learn what the world looks like when a pandemic hits,” he said. "You’re building the knowledge you can draw on later, even if it’s outside your conscious awareness.”

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