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Visiting researcher: Coltan Scrivner

Meet the behavioral scientist and morbid curiosity expert Coltan Scrivner, who is visiting researcher with the lab in October of 2020. Coltan heads our haunted house research project.

Coltan Scrivner on site at Dystopia Haunted House

After 3 years, I’m really excited to be back as a visiting researcher with the Recreational Fear Lab. It’s one of the only places the world where my research interests are the lab’s research interests rather than me having to carve out a tangential project. 

When I’m not in Aarhus, I spend my time at The University of Chicago, where I am a Fellow at the Institute for Mind and Biology and a PhD Candidate in the Department of Comparative Human Development. While my research is broadly on the evolution of human social behavior, my specialty is in the psychology of morbid curiosity. Morbid curiosity is an interesting phenomenon because almost everyone recognizes it and it’s all around us – horror films, true crime, violent sports – but it has been left behind in academia and particularly so in psychology. That being the case, I’m sort of building the scientific study of morbid curiosity from the ground up – borrowing from findings in adjacent topics through anthropology, biology, neuroscience, and psychology. 


That being said, the research being conducted at the Recreational Fear Lab’s field site at Dystopia Haunted House is the perfect place to build foundational knowledge on the psychology of morbid curiosity. For understudied phenomena like morbid curiosity, it’s sometimes best to get messy field data – to observe the phenomenon in the real world.