Zombies are everywhere these days – on TV, in movies, and in videogames. But is the recent zombie “craze” a passing fad or a sign of something else going on?

Believe it or not, new research shows it may be part of a larger historical trend, signaling how unhappy we are as a society. That’s according to Sarah Lauro, an English professor at Clemson University, who actually studied zombies for her doctoral degree! She found that throughout history, our fascination with zombies tends to rise and fall, depending on how we feel about things like government and the economy.

For example: Lauro says there was a wave of zombie movies that came out after 2004 – like “Dawn Of The Dead” – when many people were protesting the war in Iraq. Then, zombie interest spiked again in 2008, when millions of people were feeling hopeless about the economy. As Lauro puts it: “We love zombies when, in some way, we feel like we’re dead” and when a majority of us are feeling powerless, that’s when interest in zombies seems to spike.

The good news? It’s been three years since the largest zombie walk on record happened, in New Jersey.

That’s when people dress up like undead and roam the streets – often going from bar to bar. 

So, maybe that’s a sign that – even though zombies are still popular - we’re slowly starting to feel happier about the world.