Vote 2020 graphic
Everything you need to know about and expect during
the most important election of our lifetimes

Do Scary Movies Leave You Spooked? Blame the Horror Film Gene

Illustration for article titled Do Scary Movies Leave You Spooked? Blame the Horror Film Gene

Ever wonder what drives some people to every splatter fest that reaches the theater, while others flee the room any time a zombie flashes on the television? Researchers at the University of Bonn have discovered that a gene may be responsible for your fear of monster movies. Click through for more on the study, and the evolutionary benefits of the heebie jeebies.Researchers identified a particular variation of the COMT gene, which affects the brain's ability to keep emotional responses in check. They tested 96 women for this variant and then showed them a series of pleasant, neutral, and aversive images:

The scientists found that those carrying two copies of it were significantly more startled by frightening images than others. By contrast, those who had one copy of the gene and one copy of another version were able to keep their emotions in check far more readily.

Advertisement

This discovery explains more than your irrational fear of killer clowns. This version of the COMT gene is absent in our primate cousins, offering clues to the path of human evolution:

[Researcher Christian Montag] said the propensity to scare more easily could have offered an evolutionary advantage to humans. While bravery appears to be prized in the animal kingdom, recklessness could have been a disadvantage to humans with their larger mental capacity to go away and figure a problem out. Mr Montag said: "It was an advantage to be more anxious in a dangerous environment."

Advertisement

Horror film gene that makes some scream while others laugh [Daily Telegraph]

Share This Story

Get our newsletter

DISCUSSION

Corpore Metal

"[Researcher Christian Montag] said the propensity to scare more easily could have offered an evolutionary advantage to humans."

So skittish people who imagine the worst, but are good problem solvers, may bring an advantage to the species? So some people who initially appear cowardly are the ones, if you're a scary monster, you should worry about?

As Ellen Ripley said, "I say we take off and nuke the entire site from orbit. It's the only way to be sure."