NEW YORK (Associated Press) – By experimenting with a horror movie, US researchers have further corroborated the assumption that emotional support for one’s partner protects against stress.
Scientists working with Tyler Graf of Brigham Young University in Utah and Joseph Fitzgerald of Arizona State University had 83 couples watching horror movies, as they were written in the specialist journal PLOS ONE.
Either with the support of their partner, for example holding hands, or on their own, participants watched excerpts from the horror films “I Know What You Did Last Summer” and “I Still Know What You Did Last Summer” – as well as for comparison excerpts from a nature documentary about Alaska. Pupil dilation was measured. Dilated pupils are an indicator of stress.
When watching excerpts from a horror movie, the participants’ pupils dilated more than when watching a nature documentary – this reaction was diminished if someone was there and offered support, for example through entanglement. The effect was more pronounced when the relationship was seen primarily as solidarity.
However, the scientists also note that pupil dilation is a new approach in this context and that more research is needed.
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