Researchers at the University of California San Diego found that the ominous background music featured in documentaries about sharks gave viewers a negative opinion about the animals.


Most people know everything they know about sharks from the information they've received from documentaries, including "Shark Week" on the Discovery Channel. The researchers say that the clips used in documentaries generated the same fear found in horror movies with scary soundtracks.

Thriller films use a leitmotif, basically a recurring musical phrase that is paired with a character. Think of Darth Vader and the "Imperial March" or the music that's played when the shark from "Jaws" is on screen.

The researchers had over 2,000 people watch minute-long clips of sharks swimming with either ominous music, happy music or no music. Ominous music had a more negative response compared to uplifting music or silence.

Read more at PLOS ONE.