Grizzard’s Study suggests "meaningful" deaths have biggest impact

January 7, 2021
Matthew Grizzard

In a new study, researchers found that when people were asked to recall the death of a fictional character, they were more likely to mention deaths perceived as "meaningful" than those seen as "pleasurable."

"We remember the deaths that made us cry and think more than those that made us cheer," said Matthew Grizzard, co-author of the study and assistant professor of communication at The Ohio State University.

The study involved 506 people who participated online.  One was asked to think of a death scene from a narrative they found particularly meaningful. Another group was asked to think of a death they found pleasurable. The third group was simply asked to think of a death scene from a narrative.

Results showed that action, horror and thriller movies were less likely to be associated with meaningful character deaths and more likely to be linked to pleasurable character deaths.