Humans have always loved a good story. From the fire pit to the big screen, we have always enjoyed psychological thrillers and romance. Thrillers allow us to experience fear and adventure without the risk of physical harm. Romances enable us to experience the drama of love without the risk of a broken heart. Here’s more about why we love these two genres so much.
Watching or reading a psychological thriller has the same effect as experiencing an adventure. If you’ve ever gone downhill skying, swam with sharks, or jumped out a plane, you may remember the surge of adrenaline you felt. People release adrenaline no matter if they are living the experience, or witnessing it happen to someone else. Stories about cops and lovers, close calls, and scary noises in the night can all give us that rush. There are upsides and downsides to having a surge of adrenaline from a witnessed experience. The upside is that you are in no real physical danger. The downside is that from the safety of your couch, you don’t use the adrenaline, and it stays in your system. In real life, the physical response (like fighting or fleeing) makes use of the adrenaline your body produces. People also enjoy psychological thrillers because, in our culture, people can usually count on there being a happy ending.
Romance novels and “chick-flicks” are not the most respected, but they are some of the most popular. There’s an easy answer as to why. They’re not respected because they are simple and predictable. They are the most popular because of those same two reasons. People, especially women, love to escape the day with a good romance story. The plots are similar to one another but still offer variety. Romance is also the most hopeful genre. Happy endings are a sure thing, contrary to real life. The leading men are always the ideal: aggressive enough to defend the woman, but not aggressive to the point where he hurts her. If a woman hasn’t experienced love in her real life, she can live vicariously through the women in the romance stories.
The combination of predictability and newness makes these two styles of stories addictive. Thrillers give us the pleasure of justice and safety. Romance novels and films give us the joy of sex and love. Both genres thrill us and leave us with a sense of hope for the future.