Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Psychology of Horror: A Psi Chi Event

This year I am the Vice President for the Psychology Honors Association PSI CHI and was able to plan and create an event that would get students ready for Halloween and also discuss the Psychology around fear and horror.
Psi Chi, Psychology Staff and Fall 2014 Inductees
Growing up I have seen a lot of horror movies. I love watching them, but always end up regretting my decision right before bedtime when I cannot sleep or have horrible dreams. However, I take full responsibility for my viewing preferences. I wondered why even though people are terrified during horror movies, haunted houses or simulations they still choose experience this again. I decided to do some research on the topic and present it to fellow students as a fun informational event.

I had expected about 10-20 students to attend my event, but with the support of my Psi Chi officers, advisers, previous professors and friends the turnout was unbelievable. We even had to change rooms the day before as we started to realize that more than 40 people were interested in coming to hear me speak. I get nervous when talking in front of large groups and hearing the excitement about my event was wonderful but also daunting. This was a great learning experience and opportunity to develop my public speaking skills.
Attendees and their "scared" face! That's me in the front!

On the night of the event students were already waiting in the room a half hour ahead of time and kept coming in until we had filled every seat and a few extra chairs. We reached the maximum capacity and fire code of the room, 80 people, before introducing our Psi Chi chapter and an overview of my presentation. My presentation consisted of some lecture coupled with various video clips that went along with theories of appeal mentioned. During the showing of video clips, the lights were off to create the most ideal atmosphere. Attendees were extremely responsive to various video clips and the presentation itself, which added to the fun of the event. They were laughing, screaming and some even fell of their seats during scary parts of the video.

I brought in an international aspect to my presentation as we discussed differences in horror across cultures, to allow the audience to see how the psychology behind the fear is similar across the globe, but also acknowledging some differences and cultural factors that come into play. Examples came from China and Norway.

Students were very interested in asking questions after the event, about the video clips that I presented and certain movies I had seen. Others also connected the presentation to other course work and had suggestions for future films or texts to read about this topic.

As students were forced to sit randomly due to the room sitting arrangement and limitation of the chairs, the circumstance provided an opportunity for students to connect with others who may not be from the same discipline or standing. All class levels and 17 majors were represented. Friendships were formed on the common ground of eagerness to understand the psychology behind horror, despite various differences present among the 80 attendees. Friendships between first-years and current senior Psi Chi member were formed as well as they discussed the nature of Psi Chi as an organization and ways to navigate the department of psychology and college as a whole in their upcoming years.

I hope to plan more such events in the future with Psi Chi on different topics that may also be of interests to the whole student population in which we can promote the science of psychology to provide better understanding of the discipline and allowed students to see how widely impacting this discipline is in every aspect of their lives. The support and encouragement I received from my PLU community to fallow through with this event really helped me understand how happy I am to have chosen a smaller university where I truly can make things happen.


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