Morbid curiosity is not something people willingly admit. Many would feel guilty about it, but still paradoxically unable to look away. However, what’s the science behind this phenomenon? Is it really something shameful or just a natural human reaction to something horrific?
What Is Happening in the Brain?
The fact of the matter is that when people feel curious, dopamine is being released. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter which is linked to the brain’s reward system. It triggers a fight or flight moment, which causes people either to look away from something macabre or vice versa, stare at it.
Human brains are tuned to explore. This is because exploration and understanding of the world around has been paramount to people’s survival. Therefore, you would rather stop and gawk at the car crash than drive past – you want to be aware of any changes in your surroundings which might be potentially dangerous to you personally.
So, in general, morbid curiosity can be explained by a human desire to feel safe or at least prepared for a threat. It was developed over years of evolution and is as natural of a human reaction as fleeing in the face of danger.
More Details on the Matter
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Apart from a desire to be safe from threat, morbid curiosity is also linked to a feeling of catharsis. When people watch something horrible, they tend to sympathize with others just like they would with characters in a book or in a play. This leads to inner cleansing as well as a feeling of connection to other humans. Morbid curiosity is a way to realize your own fragility and a necessity to be close to your neighbor for the sake of your own safety.
When you are morbidly curious, it does not mean that you like watching somebody suffer. It just means that you want to understand how it feels to experience pain. From one side, you want to be prepared when disaster strikes you personally. From the other side, you as a human are a social creature, thus, you cannot ignore other beings in pain, no matter how much you try. Subconsciously, you want to help, because evolutionally it is more beneficial to people to help each other out rather than be on their own.
The Ugly Side of Morbid Curiosity
Although morbid curiosity can be explained by a human desire to be safe and social, it can also be linked to the ugly side of human nature. If you want to learn more about it, you can check our top writers, who are capable of crafting a top-notch paper for you.
First of all, morbid curiosity is linked to a boomerang effect. This is a paradox, when the more people try not to do something, the more likely they are to do it. So, for instance, if you feel like watching a horror movie is a horrible waste of your time, you may feel really tempted to do it, despite the voice of reason.
Secondly, people experience Schadenfreude when watching others suffer. Schadenfreude is when you feel good watching somebody else feeling bad. This does not mean that you are a horrible human being – it’s just that you did not have time to evolve since those times people had to struggle for scanty resources.
In general, people with fewer critical thinking skills and self-control are more susceptible to morbid curiosity. Therefore, if you want to evolve as a person, you might want to control the urge to be morbidly curious. It is, however, crucial to comprehend that this is just yet another natural human trait.