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The Cultural Evolution Society's Online Learning Series

The Neverending Story: Cultural Evolution and Narratives

Lecture 6: Horror

Do you like scary movies? Horror is one of the world’s most successful genres and horrific elements are often present in traditional folktales and myths. But why are stories that evoke disgust and fear so culturally successful? This lecture explains how successful narratives exploit biases for emotive content, and why stories that evoke negative emotions might be particularly successful. The exercise gives you the chance to edit two scary urban legends to make them more cognitively appealing, as a researcher might in an experiment.


Slides: (pdf)
  Instructions (pdf)
  Model answer (pdf)
  Work sheet (docx)

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