Suicidal individuals, as indicated by high scores on the Beck Hopelessness Scale, also had significantly higher preferences for thrillers and horror films than non-suicidal individuals.
Eighteen film genres, from gangster movies to screwball comedy, are examined in this anthology. Each chapter follows a set format: an historical/analytic. Handbook of American Film Genres - Kindle edition by Wes D. Gehring. Download it once and read it on your Kindle device, PC, phones or tablets. Use features.
These findings are not surprising, since most of these genres provide movies that typically display violence, tragic events and sad environments  , . Previous studies have acknowledged the link between suicidality and exposure to drama films in general  ,  , but this is the first time a relationship with specific subcategories of this genre was demonstrated. In contrast, individuals with preferences for adventure movies, westerns, comedies and romantic movies factor 3 had lower scores for psychoticism, which constitutes another risk factor for suicide.
Because comedies and romantic movies focus primarily on the pleasant things in life and tend to display a kind, jolly, and benevolent portrayal of the world  , this finding suggests that the preference for film genres with happy contents was partially associated with lower scores on suicide risk factors, although not directly with suicidal ideation.
The scoring on risk factors of suicide seems to be reflected in the individual film genre preferences suggesting that more vulnerable individuals tend to watch sad films. Cultivation theory  suggests that cumulative exposure to sad and disturbing film contents has the potential to increase or maintain suicidal ideation among viewers, while happy, jolly media contents could help maintain a positive emotional state.
Evidence of films impacting on harmful behaviors has been gained with other health-related outcomes, such as smoking. Several studies demonstrated that cumulative exposure to smoking behavior in films increased smoking behavior of the audience  ,  — . Watching movies with sad contents may be used to enhance or maintain the current emotional state  ,  , which may involve the maintaining of suicidal ideation.
This interpretation is consistent with Ringel's  concept of suicidal constriction, which suggests a drive to solely focus on tragic and sad aspects of life and an increasing tendency to focus on death and suicide in particular. A recent study further demonstrated, that the greater an individual's suicidality was, the more he or she used dramas with sad endings to gather ideas about how to go through life  , and this approach toward fictional media has been discussed to amplify negative effects of suicide films such as an increase in depression .
Thus, it is plausible to assume that individuals with greater suicidal tendencies prefer sad films, because these films reflect their current psychological state, and due to the consumption of sad films they may regulate, maintain or, in the worst case, even increase their suicidality. More research is necessary to investigate psychological mechanisms behind film preferences in vulnerable individuals. The preference for thrillers and horror movies among suicidal individuals found in the present study is particularly noteworthy, since previous studies neglected the association between fanship of horror movies and suicidality based on the notion that viewers are not able to identify with the unrealistic settings typically portrayed in horror movies  , .
I have included a selection of articles that provide generic outlines of both forms. Satisfaction is guaranteed with every order. This is a genre that includes crime dramas that typically display a pessimistic worldview and contain cynicism or black humor e. The 14 genres considered here by film scholar contributors other than Gehring include the adventure film, the western, the gangster film, film noir, the WW II combat film, the horror film, science fiction, fantasy, the musical, melodrama, the social problem film, the biographical film, and the art film. In the earliest, classic Westerns, there was a clear hero who protected society from lawless villains who lived in the wilderness and came into civilization to commit crimes.
However, the present study shows that suicidal individuals tend to watch horror movies. A potential explanation for this association may be the high amount of violence contained by horror movies. According to the interpersonal theory of suicide by Joiner  , one way to potentially acquire the capability for serious self-injury and suicide is involvement in violence. Exposure to violent movies and desensitization towards violence could be a component of this process.
Correspondingly, a recent study  has identified violence, including fighting and weapon carrying, as an appropriate variable to differentiate between suicide ideators and attempters. The results of the present study warrant more research on the link between suicidality and the preference for horror movies. Exposure to suicide films was not significantly associated with any of the suicide risk factors.
Bivariate correlations demonstrated a significant association between the number of known suicide films and psychoticism.
However, inspection of the correlation and multivariate regression coefficients indicated that this relationship may be mediated by the preference for film noir movies and milieu dramas. In spite of this pattern of film preferences, the present study also highlights that individual enjoyment of suicide films as indicated by more positive film ratings was generally associated with higher life satisfaction, which is considered a protective factor in suicide.
It seems that individuals with higher scores on risk factors for suicide have a tendency to prefer films with sad content, but at the same time they do not experience enjoyment during films with suicide portrayals. In line with social comparison theory  , exposure to the hopeless situations displayed in suicide films may promote positive self-evaluation, especially among viewers with low or no suicidal tendencies . This may explain the link between positive ratings of suicide films and high life satisfaction. Individuals with low life satisfaction may conversely be less inclined to enjoy such contents.
This study has some limitations.
First, the study participants were not representative of the total population, with an overrepresentation of female and young individuals who had finished secondary or higher education. Furthermore, our list of film genres and suicide films was not exhaustive. Individuals may have known other suicide films or preferred other film genres that were not listed on our survey.
Further, the reliability of the psychoticism scale was relatively low see Table 3 , which is a known psychometric limitation of the administered instrument . Thus, the results observed with regard to psychoticism should be interpreted with caution. Finally, due to the cross-sectional design of the study it cannot be assessed if film genre preference was causally related to the suicide risk factors. Considering the effects of movies presented in many studies in recent decades which report an increase in rates of suicide and attempted suicide due to the broadcasting of films with suicide portrayals  —  or an increase of symptoms of depression after exposure to drama films  ,  , the inter-relatedness of personal risk factors for suicide and consumption of media products with suicidal contents warrants a focus in mental health research.
The present research is, so far, the largest study that focused on associations between film preferences and risk factors for suicide. Suicidal individuals seem to choose sad films that portray the world in a depressing or disturbing way, which may contribute to the maintenance or increase of suicide risk factors. Future research may seek to explore the specific motives for the consumption of both sad and joyful movies and the emotional and cognitive processing of such films and their impact and perceived meaning, risks and usefulness for vulnerable individuals.
Future studies may also seek to investigate the association between suicidality and preferences for other types of entertainment such as music or online contents. The results of the present study have important implications for suicide prevention. With film genre preferences, in particular the preference for film noir movies and milieu dramas, being associated with risk factors for suicide, it may turn out to be useful to pay more attention to an individual's film consumption, when screening for suicide risk.
The preference for this film genre could be added to suicide risk inventories and questionnaires and may help clinicians identifying individuals most at risk for suicide. Further studies, including studies in clinical settings seem warranted to investigate this question further. Clinicians need to be concerned with the media usage history and preferences of their patients and may advise suicidal patients to avoid potentially harmful media contents.
This work was not funded by any grant. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript. National Center for Biotechnology Information , U.
PLoS One. Published online Jul Ulrich S. Elvira Brattico, Editor. Author information Article notes Copyright and License information Disclaimer. Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist. Received Oct 30; Accepted Apr This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are properly credited.
This article has been cited by other articles in PMC. Abstract Several studies indicate that exposure to suicide in movies is linked to subsequent imitative suicidal behavior, so-called copycat suicides, but little is currently known about whether the link between exposure to suicidal movies and suicidality is reflected in individual film preferences. Introduction Watching movies is the number one leisure activity in Western societies; people spend more time on watching films than on any other activity  — . Methods Participants We conducted an online survey from December 9 th to August 3 rd Measures Cumulative exposure to suicide in movies To explore the relationship between cumulative viewing of suicide movies and suicidality we applied the Beach method, a technique for assessing cumulative media exposure, found in smoking and related studies of cinematic influences on behavior  ,  —  , that has been used in previous studies to assess associations between exposure to suicide movies and suicide attempts .
Open in a separate window. Suicidal ideation The Suicide Probability Scale  is a item self-report measure that assesses suicidal ideation. Depression The Erlanger Depression Scale  uses eight self-report items e. Life satisfaction The German version of the Satisfaction with Life Scale  is a 5-item self-report measure to assess life satisfaction e. Psychoticism The psychoticism subscale of the German short version of the Eysenck Personality Questionnaire-revised EPS  is a item self-report measure that generates a score on the participants' psychoticism e.
Classification into suicidal and non-suicidal individuals The German version  of the Beck Hopelessness Scale BHS  is a item self-report measure that assesses hopelessness. Data analysis Preference ratings on film genres were factor-analyzed to investigate their latent structure and obtain a smaller number of composite measures of film genre preferences. Factor loadings of film genres as estimated with Mplus.
Film genres are sorted with regard to their highest factor loading printed boldface and in descending order. Discussion Preferences for certain film genres were significantly associated with risk factors of suicidal behavior, even when controlling for participants' age, gender and education. Conclusions Considering the effects of movies presented in many studies in recent decades which report an increase in rates of suicide and attempted suicide due to the broadcasting of films with suicide portrayals  —  or an increase of symptoms of depression after exposure to drama films  ,  , the inter-relatedness of personal risk factors for suicide and consumption of media products with suicidal contents warrants a focus in mental health research.
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