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I want to know answers to the following questions :

  1. Why do I feel curious sometimes to check out sites of "real accidents" such as "Documenting Reality" or "Live Leak" ?

  2. Why do I feel nauseous when I have seen a few of these events, such as videos / images of real motorcycle accidents ?

I am confused that I feel both occasionally (every 3 months say) curious to see what really happens to people in these accidents as well as feel physically ill once I have seen that.

I suppose this is somewhat similar to the reason people slow down to "take a look" at a motor vehicle accident while driving past on the highway.

I guess what I am also interested in is -- how is it possible for people to feel turned on by this same content -- such as "self harmers" or psychopaths? Is there a "causal emotional chain" that could be explained the reactions of such people as compared with the feeling of aversion ... or is such arousal just random and unexplainable?

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This is not uncommon, and not a problem unless it actually bothers you. Look for better quality articles on Morbid Curiosity and you'll see how common it is, and why people do this. Some do this more than others, males more than females, but it is not necessarily maladaptive at all. –  anongoodnurse Jun 7 at 6:02

1 Answer 1

I'm not an expert in social cognition and this may be considered somewhat speculative, but I wouldn't be surprised if the literature found a link between shocking images and their high informational value (along the lines of a delta in reinforcement-learning models).

Intuitively, one would expect that visual representations of potentially dangerous situations would be extremely informative and therefore extremely salient. Indeed, emotion-induced blindness studies suggest that gory stimuli benefit from the deployment of massive attentional resources, to the point that they may exclude other salient stimuli.

Where this gets speculative is why this is experienced as something pleasurable. I'd suggest that highly-informative stimuli might be pleasurable in general. On the pure social psychology end of things, a search for "morbid curiosity" is bound to turn up some relevant results (as suggested by @medica).

I'll leave it up to you to explore these three bibliographic trails. =)

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