Why Are Humans So Morbidly Curious?

Morbid curiosity takes many forms, whether it's rubbernecking when an ambulance drives past or cracking open a book on serial killers. But this attraction to grisly subjects shouldn't make you feel entirely guilty: psychologists think that morbid curiosity might fulfill several functions related to the self and social interactions. For example, a fascination with the grotesque can encourage empathy, as the observer imagines themselves in a similarly disturbing situation.

Key Facts In This Video

  1. SCREAM is a mnemonic device for the motivations behind morbid curiosity. 02:05

  2. The feeling of joy or satisfaction caused by someone else's harm or failure is called schadenfreude. 06:56

  3. Morbid curiosity can be compared to humor, in that both assess underlying shared attitudes. 12:28

Written by Curiosity Staff December 7, 2015

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