Why do People Watch ISIS Beheading Videos? UCI Study Blames Fear of Terrorism
Violence (Photo Credits: Noun Project, James Keuning, US)

The dark web is rife with beheading videos since the early 2000s when Jihadist terrorist groups like the Islamic State used them as tools of propaganda. And surprisingly, such graphic videos do have viewership and are actively consumed. According to a new study by the University of California, Irvine (UCI), one in five adults in the US may have watched a part of such graphic videos online. Why would anyone want to watch such violent content willingly? The question has rattled psychologists and media researchers alike. UCI says that the answer lies in the person’s own fears.

Researchers from the university found out that the ones who actively consume such graphic content themselves have a fear of terrorism and a history of violent victimisation. The report of their findings has been published in the American Psychologist journal of the American Psychological Association. Trans Woman Priest Beheaded in Tamil Nadu, Mutilated Body Found Inside Temple.

The study says that its objective was to understand what draws people to such graphic content. The findings revealed that when people are frightened of horrible acts of cruelty in the world, they may become more curious about these events. It may lead them to the videos, which may, in part, satisfy their curiosity.

The longitudinal study was conduction on more than 3,000 residents of the US, who revealed why they watched the video through anonymous surveys. Around five percent said that they viewed a beheading video entirely. Trump Anxiety Disorder: How the US President is Affecting Mental Health of Americans.

But it does little to alleviate their distress, says the study. Over time, watching such graphic content will cause more fear and anxiety. Roxane Cohen Silver, a senior author of the study, said: “Our findings suggest that when individuals are afraid of horrific acts of cruelty occurring in the world, they may be curious to seek out graphic coverage of these types of events. But this may only exacerbate their distress and anxiety over time, locking them into a spiral of fear.”

“We found that those who watched a graphic beheading video experienced increased negative mental health outcomes approximately two years later and that individuals who view these images may be at risk for the same psychological and physical distress symptoms usually seen in those directly exposed to trauma,” said Sarah Redmond, the first author of the study.