The following is an interview conducted by Archbridge Vice President of Research and Director of the Human Flourishing Lab Clay Routledge with Coltan Scrivner, a research scientist at the Recreational Fear Lab. We discuss his research on the psychology of horror, true crime, and people’s morbid curiosity.
Clay Routledge: What is morbid curiosity, and what made you interested in studying it?
Coltan Scrivner: Morbid curiosity can be simply defined as an interest in information about danger or threats. Sometimes those threats can be real, such as a natural disaster or local murder, and sometimes they can be fictional, such as a zombie in a horror movie. It’s important to note that “morbid” refers to the type of content (i.e., content about threats that could lead to death) and does not mean curiosity about these topics is “bad.” In fact, there’s good reason to believe that morbid curiosity has been an important defense throughout our species’ evolution and may contribute to well-being in surprising ways.