University of Western Ontario - Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Philosophy




Dr. Tony Vernon


I sought to explain why many people willingly expose themselves to apparently unpleasant media, such as horror movies. Participants (N = 133) completed a modified version of the Affect Misattribution Procedure (AMP; Payne et al., 2005), which assessed initial affective reactions to screenshots from movies that were either frightening or neutral. The time between exposure to the screenshots and assessment of affect was either short (100 ms) or long (1000 ms). Explicit attitudes about the movies and about the horror genre were also assessed, in addition to the following personality variables: The Big Five, Machiavellianism (from the Supernumerary Personality Inventory), Sensation Seeking, and Psychopathy. There was little evidence for a direct connection between implicit reactions and explicit attitudes, but I found overall support for an aftermath- based model of horror enjoyment, in which affect gets increasingly positive after a horrific stimulus has been removed from the screen. However, this relief-like pattern was moderated by Agreeableness and Sensation Seeking. Personality correlates of horror liking (both explicit and implicit) were examined. Furthermore, gender differences supported a gender socialization theory of reactions to frightening media. Theoretical implications and practical applications are discussed.