The Daily Telegraph

Horror films less terrifying with loved ones

- By Joe Pinkstone science correspond­ent

PEOPLE get less scared watching a horror film with their spouse than when they are alone, research shows.

Data also show that holding hands reduces film-induced stress, and being in a strong relationsh­ip prevents fear.

Researcher­s from the US, led by Brigham Young University, monitored the pupil size of 83 couples during an experiment. Each person was asked to watch clips either from a horror or “neutral” film. Half watched in the company of their partner, half alone.

“Participan­ts entered the experiment with similar levels of apprehensi­on but the actual exposure to the horror videos was more intense for those without the support of their spouse,” the paper in PLOS One says. The presence of a loved one did not just allow someone to calm down quickly after being scared, but it was “powerfully protective”.

“The smaller tonic pupil size overall meant that frightenin­g jump scenes in the horror video were already dampened by spousal support before they even occurred,” they write.

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