Scientists say different versions of a single gene linked to feelings of anxiety can explain the way in which some people simply cannot watch horror movies, while others enjoy the suspense and the gore.

The findings may explain why it is that over the past 35 years people have had wildly different reactions to the classic horror film, The Exorcist.

While many screamed and some even fainted in cinemas at scenes of spinning heads and shaking beds, others simply laughed.

A particular variant of the ‘COMT’ gene affects a chemical in the brain that is linked to anxiety, it has been found.

People who have two copies of one version of the gene are more easily disturbed when viewing unpleasant pictures, the scientists discovered.

That version of the gene weakens the effect of a signalling chemical in the brain that helps control certain emotions.

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.

The study, published today in the scientific journal Behavioural Neuroscience, also found that those with two copies of the latter gene were also able to keep a lid on their anxiety more easily.

Researchers from the University of Bonn in Germany made the discovery after testing 96 women.

Then they showing them three different types of pictures – emotionally “pleasant” ones of smiling babies and cute animals, “neutral” ones of items like electric plugs or hairdryers, and “aversive” ones of weapons or injured victims.

The Exorcist was banned by some councils in Britain upon its release here in 1974, but broke box office records in the US to become the biggest selling horror movie of its day.

So what do you guys think? What does watching a scary movie do to you? Does it make you scared or make you laugh?

Do you enjoy the movie for the thrill or for the laughs? I know I have a little bit of both.. I love the suspense and then the laughter after you’ve been scared and I love being terrified! The creepier the better for me!

I am travelling to Orlando in two weeks for Universal Halloween Horror Nights 23 which will be my first trip to this event! I can’t wait to be in the middle of all the carnage but at the same time I feel a lot more on edge when I feel that I am in the middle of the movies!!

There is a huge difference in my eyes between watching a horror movie and then pretty much living several movies out in one night, but that the risk I am willing to take…while I will be scared during the walkthroughs(most likely screaming like a girl) when I emerge from the other end unharmed I will laugh for hours!

It’s the horror fan’s ultimate dream! Give me your thoughts on how horror movies effect you guys in the comments below!!



  1. “I know I have a little bit of both.. I love the suspense and then the laughter after you’ve been scared and I love being terrified!”

    Completely agreed. For me, the laughter is always a nervous one (unless the film is rubbish, in which case I just revel in the fact that it’s so bad!) and it’s a result of trying to dismiss the fear and reassure myself that what I’m watching isn’t real and can’t do me any actual harm. I think it’s similar to why people sometimes laugh at misfortune and/or tragedy.It helps you to disassociate yourself from what is happening, by turning something scary into something funny.

    Nice, thought-provoking blog btw! =)

    • Yeah I feel exactly the same! It was something I had been thinking about for quiet awhile! I feel that what your saying is exactly how most people view it!
      It’s that nervous laughter!

      I think I will be doing quiet a bit of nervous laughter in two weeks at Halloween Horror Nights! :/ haha

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