Zombie Movies Made People More Resilient and Prepared for the Pandemic, According to Study

Because apparently, 2020 was so bad that it could be compared to a zombie movie.

Don’t listen to what your mother says. It might be better for your mental health if you stay up watching those R-rated zombie, horror, and apocalyptic movies.

According to new research published by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, University of Chicago, and more, zombie movies can contribute to the psychological resilience of viewers and might have “prepared them for the reality of 2020.”

In a survey conducted by the researchers, one of whom was John Johnson, a professor emeritus of psychology at Penn State, they found that those who watched more horror, zombie, thriller, supernatural, apocalyptic, science fiction, and alien-invasion movies were, well, more prepared when the pandemic hit and rewired everyone’s everyday life.

The study was actually conceived by a graduate student at the University of Chicago by the name of Coltan Scrivner whose curiosity led the team to this unique and relevant research project.

"We found that the more movies about zombies, alien invasions and apocalyptic pandemics people had seen prior to COVID-19, the better they dealt with the actual, current pandemic. These kinds of movies apparently serve as mental rehearsals for actual events,” said Johnson.

Because of course, a zombie apocalyptic film can be compared to the disastrous year that was 2020.

“To me, this implicates an even more important message about stories in general -- whether in books, movies or plays. Stories are not just entertainment, but preparation for life," said Johnson.

"I'm not sure that watching such movies now would be helpful for our current situation. However, my understanding of pandemics and other life-challenging events is that similar future challenges are absolutely inevitable. The past is often forgotten too easily. Who remembered the Spanish flu epidemic until scientists brought up that piece of history during COVID-19? This reinforces my belief that consuming stories from books, films and maybe even video games is not just an idle pastime, but a way for us to imagine simulated realities that help prepare us for future challenges."


So there you go. It might do well to binge on all those apocalyptic movies because as we’ve been told time and again by doctors and scientists, another pandemic will eventually happen. Let’s hope World War Z prepares us for the undead pandemic (*knocks on wood*).

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Anri Ichimura
Section Editor, Esquire Philippines
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