Apocalypse Movie Fans Are Better Equipped To Cope With The Covid-19 Pandemic

Researchers have found that individuals who are fans of apocalypse movies are more resilient and prepared when it comes to the current Covid-19 pandemic.

Embed from Getty Images

Coltan Scrivner is a psychologist who specializes in “morbid curiosity” at the University of Chicago and has long studied the effects of Science Fiction movies on individuals when it comes to dealing with real life disasters. His fellow psychologists and him have found evidence that suggests fans of apocalyptic movies in particular may be better prepared, literally and mentally, to continue to cope with the coronavirus pandemic than others. 

In this instance, Scrivner defines apocalyptic movies as films where general global order is upturned for a multitude of possible reasons; in this case a deadly virus that spreads easily through the air. Movies such as “Contagion,” which was literally about an airborne virus that the world was unequipped to handle, have forced audiences to look at bleak and scary scenarios and subconsciously forced them to question what they would do if they were in that sort of position. Now, the world is answering that former hypothetical question, and those who have been more inclined to watch apocalyptic movies in the past are better able to work out how to adjust to this new and intense situation the world is in. 

Scrivner also claims that scenarios in post-apocalyptic movies generally follow the blueprint of individuals panic buying, isolating themselves, fear, and fake claims of miracle cures; all things the world has seen within the past three months. 

“If it’s a good movie, you take the perspective of the characters, so you are unintentionally rehearsing the scenarios. 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 and his fellow researchers questioned 310 volunteers on their movie preferences and viewing histories in general before diving into discussing the pandemic. After they got a detailed enough history they would then ask how prepared they felt going into the pandemic and how their levels of anxiety, depression, irritability, and sleeplessness, have fared within the initial months of lockdown. 

The results showed that horror movie fans appeared to be less distressed than most, however, those who were more so fans of apocalyptic “prepper movies” – movies that depict a collapse in society and preparedness efforts to cope – ranked the most resilient and prepared, both mentally and physically, for coping with the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The researchers also controlled the subjects age, sex, and general fondness of movies to keep the results relatively accurate. However, like with most studies, Scrivner suspects that multiple other factors could also contribute to how prepared an individual feels and copes with a worldwide pandemic no one was expecting. Scrivner claims that movies like “Contagion” especially work to normalize pandemic/quarantine life. 

Embed from Getty Images

“You’ve seen it a hundred times in the movies, so it doesn’t catch you off-guard so much. The movies are an opportunity for people to practice pulling themselves together when bad times come along.”

Embed from Getty Images

One of the major aspects of “Contagion” that’s been circulating social media throughout this pandemic is a sequence of shots that depict how quickly germs spread from person to person especially when a virus is airborne. Another example from that movie shows one character in the film touting around a “miracle drug” which ends up going viral online and causing even more panic; which can be compared to the US’s now surplus of hydroxychloroquine due to an overstocking of the drug for it’s benefits against Covid that have since been greatly disproved. 

Before the coronavirus even became a part of our reality, Scrivner claims that individuals like apocalyptic “prepper” movies because they acted as a safe way to experience the chaos of a complete breakdown of society without actually experiencing it in real life. 

“Our ability to imaginatively inhabit virtual worlds – worlds of our own making, as well as those conveyed by movies and books – is a gift from natural selection,” said Mathias Clasen, a co-author on the study. Watching these movies has caused some citizens to live vicariously through times of massive social upheavals, martial law, natural disaster, disease, and any other form of post-apocalyptic chaos one could think of. 

According to Scrivner, that vicarious living does have an impact on one’s mental ability to cope with actual real world chaos. However, it’s important to note that while apocalyptic movies have better prepared some individuals to cope with this pandemic, we’re not enduring an apocalypse. Vaccines are currently in production, countries remain shut down, and health and safety measures that have come directly from the world’s smartest healthcare experts are still in play to keep everyone as safe as possible. It’s now up to us, as citizens, to listen to these guidelines and our countries healthcare professionals, or else the world of “Contagion” could become an actual reality before we know it.