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The psychology of our love of Zombies!

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Why does it seems that there are more movies, books, video games, tv shows, etc. about zombies than ever before?  There are even Zombie 5K walks and runs!  What does our love and fascination with zombies and the "undead" tell us about the human experience?  

 

Class activity:

  1. Ask students to raise their hands if they enjoy watching or reading about zombies.
  2. Have students explain exactly what they find so interesting about zombies (or why they hate zombies). This may be a very enlightening  experience, as some may not really know why, some may think the shows are absurb or humorous, and maybe some will have a commentary on the world we live in. 
  3. Tell the students that there are different theories that zombies reflect our culture and fears and ask them what they might be. (see if anyone mentions anxiety about the future such as climate change, financial contagion, terrorism, diseases, disasters, etc. ).

 

There are researchers that are studying our fascination with zombies (see the attached Burston article) that say zombies reflect the alientation that we feel. Some say that zombies reflect the "grit" that Angela Duckworth is referring to in her research (they never give up!)  and others who think that seeing zombies in action on the big screen help reduce our own feelings of anxiety about the world (seeing zombie apolocypes in action reduces our own fear).  There are other perspectives as referenced here: What Does Our Zombie Attraction Say About Us? 

 

Late to the Zombie craze? No worries-- The Fear the Walking Dead series is back for season 3 this year and the Walking Dead for its 7th season!  Did you miss an episode? You can catch up here

 

Burston, D. (07/01/2014). "Cyborgs, zombies, and planetary death: Alienation in the 21st century".

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I'm fascinated by the interest in zombies too.  I heard someone ask recently, "Why do movies about apocalyptic (or dystopian) futures interest us so much more than a movie about utopia?" I don't know off hand, but a movie about a utopian future sounds dull Smiley Wink

 

I'll throw in this possible explanation from an evolutionary psychology perspective: our fascination with rotting and dead things was an advantageous trait for our early selves to possess: those who who could figure out what caused someone else's death (and avoid it) were more likely to survive.  Just a thought.  Really interesting topic!