Adolescents' Enjoyment of Graphic Horror: Effects of Viewers' Attitudes and Portrayals of Victim

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A study was conducted to examine the roles that adolescents' attitudes about sexuality and punishment play in their enjoyment of R-rated “slasher films.” Ninety-six high school students completed a series of attitude questionnaires and rated their perceptions of a videotaped preview of a slasher film that varied the sexuality in the portrayal (sexual, nonsexual) with the gender of the victim who was killed at the film's conclusion. More permissive sexual attitudes and lower levels of punitiveness were associated with greater enjoyment of frightening films. However, traditional attitudes toward females' sexuality were positively associated with gore-watching motivations (e.g., watching slasher films “to see the victims get what they deserve”). The manipulations of sexual behavior and gender of victim in the video preview had little effect on ratings of enjoyment overall. However, punitive attitudes toward sexuality were associated with greater overall enjoyment of the previews, and punitiveness was associated with greater enjoyment of the previews featuring sexuality. For male subjects, more traditional attitudes about females' sexuality were associated with greater enjoyment of previews featuring female victims.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)30-50
Number of pages21
JournalCommunication Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 1993


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Communication
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language

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