Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Fear and Pleasure

A couple of economic researchers have proven via scientific experimentation something that artists have known for millennia: people can feel pain and have fun at the same time. At last, we have a scientific theory that explains why the torture-tastic movie Saw is so popular. Not to mention the writings of Franz Kafka.
Eduardo Andrade and Joel Cohen, both business professors interested in consumer behavior, wanted to know why people are willing to plunk down money for what they called "negative feelings," the sensations of disgust and nastiness that arise during hideous but financially successful flicks like Hostel, the Jason and Freddy franchises, and The Silence of the Lambs. It's a good question, especially if you're one of those business types who want to peddle gore to the fake blood–loving masses. The scholarly article Andrade and Cohen produced, sums up four experiments they did with hapless undergraduates paid to watch bad horror movies and describe how this exercise made them feel. The researchers had two basic questions: Do audiences experience fear and pleasure at the same time while watching somebody get dismembered? If yes, how?(By Annalee Newitz, AlterNet)

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