Why people watch violent movies
Why do violent scenes in war movies and violent scenes in a horror flick seem so different? Researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Augsburg in Germany believe that it is the motivation behind the violence within the movie’s narrative that makes the difference. According to a new study, audiences are more tolerant of gory scenes in movies when they feel the violence points to some meaning and truth in everyday life.
For the study, researchers asked 482 volunteers from both Germany and the U.S. to watch film trailers of movies that featured different levels of gore and meaningfulness. After the volunteers watched the trailer, they were asked to rate how violent and thought-provoking they expected the movie to be, and then asked how likely they would be to watch the full movie.
They found that people were less likely to endure gore in movies if they did not see a deeper purpose to the violence. The participants were much more likely to watch movies that featured violent scenes when they perceived that the overall message of the movie was thought-provoking and meaningful.
According to the study authors, “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.”