Effects of gender roles and self perceptions on affective reactions to horror films

Abstract

Responses to graphic horror films have been shown to be modified by a number of personality variables, and in particular, by gender-specific rules for social conduct. In earlier horror research it has been assumed that gender-specific responses are largely determined by biological gender. More recent research has focused on psychological patterns of gender identity that often transcend biological gender lines. This investigation sought clarification by examining the impact of individuals' self-perceived gender role and other personality characteristics on affective responses to horror. Subjects' perceptions of how same- and opposite-gender peers would respond to such materials were also assessed. Consistent with theoretical expectations, the findings revealed strong effects on the estimation of opposite-gender target's reactions as a function of both the rater's gender role characteristics and biological gender. Other personality factors were found to influence responses to horror only marginally, however. The results are discussed in terms of the gender role socialization model of affect.

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Correspondence to Norbert Mundorf.

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Mundorf, N., Weaver, J. & Zillmann, D. Effects of gender roles and self perceptions on affective reactions to horror films. Sex Roles 20, 655–673 (1989). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00288078

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Keywords

  • Gender Role
  • Clarification
  • Gender Identity
  • Personality Factor
  • Affective Response