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Meet the Staff: Marc Malmdorf Andersen, Assistant Professor

Lab member Marc Malmdorf Andersen shares his enthusiasm for the science of recreational fear ... and reveals his uneasy relationship with scary entertainment.

Photo: Jacob Papsø

I’m thrilled to join the Recreational Fear Lab at Aarhus University as a new assistant professor, and I am utterly excited for the opportunity to do blood-spattering, spine-tingling research in collaboration with leading experts in the field of scary entertainment.


My academic interest in recreational fear is a recent and quite surprising upshot from my main academic interest in play, fun and enjoyment. In play research, the fun and enjoyment that children and adults can extract from scary stimuli in safe environments has not been studied very much despite the phenomenon being quite widespread. Many children absolutely love being playfully chased around the house by a caregiver, and who, in their adolescent years, has not had their curiosity piqued by the prospect of using an Ouija board to contact the dead? Similarly, the horror industry seems to be an ever-growing enterprise with millions of fans across the globe.


Personally, I must admit I am not a big fan of horror and scary entertainment. You could go so far as to say that I avoid it with my entire being. And when I do see it, it is with clenched teeth through white-knuckled fingers. Yet, the scientific prospects and potential methodological developments in studying recreational fear is way too good to pass up. I mean, who would not want to measure what happens in the body and mind of visitors at haunted attractions as they are being chased by a crazed, chainsaw-wielding, murderous man-pig?