Institute of Art Design + Technology
Dún Laoghaire

Joseph O'Brien 

BSc [Hons] Applied Psychology

Hi, I am soon to be a graduate of BSc Applied Psychology in IADT. I am particularly interested in Psychology of New Media and Entertainment and completed my research project in the area, investigating the relationship between horror preference, personality, and self-efficacy. Other areas I have a keen interest in are Organisational Psychology and Sport and Health Psychology.

Project Description

My research project investigated the relationship between horror, personality, and general self-efficacy. There is still a need for a greater understanding of why individuals watch and enjoy horror media, with viewer engagement being labelled as a 'paradox'. Previous research suggests that personality may have a part to play in horror enjoyment, and that personality types such as extraversion and openness may predict a preference for the genre. Horror engagement has been reported to have an effect on mental resilience and psychological preparedness for events such as Covid-19. This study investigated the relationship between horror preference, personality, and self-efficacy (belief in one's ability to cope with a challenging situation).

Project Objectives

The research project titled 'Personality, Horror preference, and Self-efficacy: A Correlational Study' employed a qualitative correlational design. The independent variables were horror preference, extraversion, and openness. The dependent variable was general self-efficacy. The study aimed to address the gap in research in the area of horror, as there is conflicting and limited research into why individuals engage with horror and the effect it has on the viewer. The hypotheses for the study predicted that there would be a positive correlation between horror preference and general self-efficacy, and both personality types and self-efficacy. This means that the greater someone enjoys horror, the greater their general self-efficacy will be, and the same for personality types and general self-efficacy. 201 participants were recruited through convenience sampling and snowball sampling and asked to complete a Microsoft forms survey. The survey presented a demographics questionnaire, horror preference scale, an extraversion scale, openness to experience scale, and a general self-efficacy scale. A consent form was given to participants before and after the study. The final sample size was 191, of which participants' data was analysed using SPSS version 28.

Project Outcomes

The results of the study suggest that the relationship between horror preference and general self-efficacy is the opposite of the suggested hypothesis. Horror preference was found to have a significant negative correlation with general self-efficacy, which means that those who enjoyed horror films more had lower general self-efficacy. Extraversion was found to have a significant positive relationship with the dependent variable, so participants who were more extroverted tended to have greater general self-efficacy. There was no relationship reported between openness and general self-efficacy. The findings of the research project conflict with previous research, and so further research in the area of why people engage with horror and the effect that it has on the viewer may be required.

Thesis Title

Personality, Horror preference, and Self-efficacy: A Correlational Study