Forget documentaries and drama. Comedy won’t cut it. You want something exciting.
“Misattribution of emotions” means that when exciting things happen we’ll associate those feelings with the people in our presence when they occur.
And studies show that mental arousal can, um, lead to other kinds of arousal.
The research directly confirms that you want movies that get the heart racing.
Related to this is the ‘snuggle theory’ – the idea that viewing horror films may be a rite of passage for young people, providing them with an opportunity to fulfil their traditional gender roles. A paper from the late 1980s by Dolf Zillmann, Norbert Mundorf and others found that male undergrads paired with a female partner (unbeknown to them, a research assistant), enjoyed a 14-minute clip from Friday the 13th Part III almost twice as much if she showed distress during the film. Female undergrads, by contrast, said they enjoyed the film more if their male companion appeared calm and unmoved. Moreover, men who were initially considered unattractive were later judged more appealing if they displayed courage during the film viewing.
So do suspense-thrillers:
…similar work examining whether a similar effect occurs when couples watch exciting films, has provided more clear-cut evidence in support of the theory that we take cues from our own physiology when deciding how attractive we find others. Researchers secretly observed couples leaving different kinds of films and discovered that those who had just seen a suspense thriller were especially likely to be holding hands and touching each other.
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