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Meet the Staff: Postdoc Jens Kjeldgaard-Christiansen

Meet lab member and media researcher Jens Kjeldgaard-Christiansen, whose interdisciplinary research encompasses recreational fear.

I’m extremely excited to join the Recreational Fear Lab as an interdisciplinary postoc. With my educational background in English and psychology, as well as my extracurricular academic interest in philosophy, I hope to be able to contribute something new and interesting.


My academic interest in horror stems from the genre’s well-known paradoxes: Why would anyone spend their time on media that are designed to make them feel bad? And how are we able to feel visceral fear for creatures that are only depicted and that we know do not exist in real life? These paradoxes are psychological in a literal sense: They’re about the logic—the inner workings—of the human psyche. And that’s exactly the sense in which horror fascinates me the most. The genre has a lot to say about who we are.


I use some horror media in my leisure time, but much of it is too intense for my liking. Jump scares exhaust me, and anything that smells of “torture porn” turns me off. That said, some of my most memorable entertainment experiences have been with horror media. For example, I found the PlayStation 4 video game Bloodborne to be a riveting masterclass in Lovecraftian environmental storytelling. It hooked me in a way very few non-horror games have been able to. I want to understand why.