Wells' research & Cohen's moral panics

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Page 1: Wells' research & Cohen's moral panics



Page 2: Wells' research & Cohen's moral panics

PAUL WELLS• Paul Wells conducted research into horror audiences (research from 2000). • He took groups of 12 people in the age groups of, 16-25, 26-40, 41-55 and

56-80.• He asked all the groups of people what was the first horror film they

watches, and what was the latest horror film they watched. • From this research he found connections between fright and age.• Viewers from between the 1970 and 1990s were more numb to explicit

special effects• He also found that younger viewers were able to spot no believable effects

and subsequently becoming harder to scare/shock.• Although this theory is believable there are limitations to it, for example the

small amount of evidence (there was not enough people in study).

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Age Group Earliest Film Latest Film Conclusion

56-80 years (1920-1944)

In this age rage it was found that the group enjoyed horror more when they were younger and they found things like darkness and rats scary, as a results of the scares of WW1 in which they faced. They also disliked paranormal horror.

41-55 years (1945-1959)

They found films like ‘The Exorcist’ (1973) too scary as result of the violence. This group realised that they were beginning to dislike horror films.


This group still enjoyed horror but were realising that the plots were becoming predictable. They also commented on the growing number of females in main roles. In addition they preferred US made horror films to British horror.


This group loved the blood and gore in horror, they also liked to see inventive marketing (i.e. using the internet). This group still enjoyed horror.

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MORAL PANIC• Stanley Cohen stated in his book ‘Folk Devils and Moral Panics’ (1972) that

a group or person, condition, episode emerges to become a distinct threat to societal principles and security,.

• He also suggests that the media has a big impact in enforcing moral panic, by (for example) presenting a topic on the news constantly.

• The media increases the fear in people by over exaggerating the extent of the topic.

• Some examples of moral panic is the resent fear over the youth spending to much time on their phone making their social skill drop.

28 Days Later (2002)Inspired by moral panic over infection and spreading of germs

Unfriended (2014)Inspired by the rising fear of social media’s effect on the youth

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CONCLUSION • From Wells' Research & Cohen's Moral Panics I have discovered that horror as a genre is becoming harder to create as people are becoming more aware off artificial effects.

• I have also found that playing on peoples fears (‘Moral Panic’) can work well in horror as fear is more personal when the viewer can connect to it.

• In my horror film I would like to implement these ideas by looking at social issues and adding elements of them in my film.