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Abstract

Morbid curiosity refers to a phenomenon where certain individuals are drawn to seek out dangerous stimuli as expressed in horror fandom and interest in true crime. Recent studies have shown that morbid curiosity might act to promote effective coping strategies in the face of anxiety and stress. Across two studies, we seek to shed light on the nature of the relationship between morbid curiosity and anxiety. In Study 1, we tested the relationship between morbid curiosity and cognitive and somatic anxiety. In Study 2, we assessed the relationship between emotion regulation, anxiety, and horror fandom – an expression of morbid curiosity. We found that morbid curiosity measured both as a trait and as expressed through horror fandom had a significant, positive relationship with anxiety, primarily among the female participants of both studies. Our findings lay the foundation for future work aimed at uncovering the psychological causes of morbid curiosity. Moreover, morbid stimuli, specifically horror films, may hint at possible avenues of treatment for those dealing with an anxiety disorder.

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