Coltan Scrivner, Ph.D.
I am a Behavioral Scientist at the Recreational Fear Lab at Aarhus University in Denmark and a Research Project Manager at Arizona State University. I investigate the evolutionary and psychological underpinnings of our fascination with the darker side of life, including horror, true crime, and all types of scary play. In particular, I am interested in how engaging in scary play may actually be beneficial for our mental health and well-being. I am also the director of the Eureka Springs Zombie Crawl, an annual festival celebrating all things spooky.
I'm currently writing my first book on the science behind morbid curiosity and our fascination with horror, true crime, the paranormal, and other spooky parts of life. Tentatively titled, Dark Minds, Soft Hearts, it will be the first book of its kind to dive into the how enjoyment of scary entertainment is related to personality, mental health, and the evolution of our mind. The book will be published by Penguin Random House in 2024.
You can also find my writing on my Substack — Morbidly Curious — or my Psychology Today column — Morbid Minds.
These are the core questions that motivate much of my research, whether that research involves tracking participants’ eye movements as they inspect a cabinet of morbid items, interviewing people at a torture museum, or measuring visitors' heart rate as they fight their way through a haunted house.
Over the past several years, I have conducted pioneering research on the psychology of morbid curiosity, true crime, and horror. Most of my research looks at how and why people can find enjoyment — and can perhaps learn something — from fictionally dangerous scenarios. My research has been covered by numerous international newspapers, magazines, radio and TV shows, and podcasts. You can check out some of the media coverage of my work here.
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