Why is it fun to be afraid?

Why is it fun to be afraid?
24 March 2024 J.W.H

Visiting a particularly haunted house might be delightfully scary. AP Photo/John Minchillo
The recent installment of the “Halloween” series moved the motion to 2018.
Universal images

Viewers enjoy watching horror movies. They get their thrill from movies like “Halloween”, with seemingly random murders and mayhem in a small suburban town, a reminder that fences and manicured lawns cannot protect us from the injustice, unknown, or uncertainty that awaits us all in each life and death. Ultimately, the film offers no justice to the victims or a restoration of balance between good and evil.

So why would anyone need to spend money and time watching such gruesome scenes full of depressing reminders of how unfair and terrible our world might be?

I even have spent the last 10 years researching this very query, with the everyday answer: “Because I like it! It's great fun!” incredibly unsatisfactory. I even have long been convinced that there’s more to it than the “natural high” or adrenaline rush that many describe – and indeed, the body goes into “go” mode when you’re startled or scared, increasing not only adrenaline but many other things. chemicals that can provide your body with energy and readiness to react. This “fight or flight” response to threat has helped keep humans alive for millennia.

But that also doesn't explain why people need to deliberately scare themselves. As a sociologist, I always ask myself: “But why?” After two years of collecting data at a haunted attraction with my friend Grzegorz Sieglecognitive neuroscientist on the University of Pittsburgh, we found that the advantages of chills and chills can go further than a natural high.

Around Halloween, some people love to go to haunted attractions like this one on the old fashioned in Cincinnati.
AP Photo/John Minchillo

A study of fear of a terrifying attraction

To capture in real time what makes scares funny, what motivates people to pay to be scared out of their skin, and what they experience when exposed to this material, we had to gather data in the sphere. In this case, that meant establishing a mobile lab within the basement of a particularly haunted attraction near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

This extreme adults-only attraction went beyond the everyday startling lights and sounds and animated characters present in a family-friendly haunted house. Over the course of roughly 35 minutes, viewers experienced a series of intense scenarios wherein, along with disturbing characters and computer graphics, actors touched them, restrained them and exposed them to electric current. It was Not for the faint of heart.

For our study, we recruited 262 guests who had already purchased tickets. Before entering the attraction, everyone accomplished a survey about their expectations and well-being. We asked them to reply questions again about how they felt after completing the attraction.

We also used mobile EEG technology to check the brain wave activity of 100 participants who performed various cognitive and emotional tasks for quarter-hour before and after the attraction.

Guests reported significantly improved moodand felt less anxious and drained immediately after traveling through the haunted attraction. The scarier the higher: subsequent feelings of happiness were related to rating the experience as very intense and scary. This group of volunteers also reported that they challenged their personal fears and learned about themselves.

Analysis of EEG data revealed a widespread decline in brain reactivity before and after the study amongst people whose mood improved. In other words, very intense and scary activities – a minimum of in a controlled environment like this haunted attraction – can “switch off” the brain to some extent, and this, in turn, is related to improved well-being. Research these who practice mindfulness meditation made an analogous remark.

Coming out stronger on the opposite side

Collectively, our findings suggest that going through an extreme haunted attraction provides advantages just like selection participate in a 5 km race or overcoming a difficult climbing wall. There is a way of uncertainty, of physical exercise, of a challenge to be challenged – and ultimately of feat when it is completed.

Fun and scary experiences can function a direct recalibration of what’s perceived as stressful and even provide a confidence boost of sorts. After watching a scary movie or going through a haunted attraction, perhaps every part else looks as if no big deal compared. Rationally, you understand that the actors within the haunted house usually are not real, but whenever you suspend your disbelief and permit yourself to immerse yourself within the experience, the fear can actually feel real, as can the satisfaction and sense of accomplishment whenever you make it through. As I experienced myself in spite of everything kinds scary adventures in Japan, Colombia and across the United StatesConfronting a horde of zombies could make you’re feeling invincible.

Movies like “Halloween” allow people to face the large existential fears that all of us have, like why bad things occur for no reason, by entertainment protective frame. Choosing fun and scary activities can even function a option to exercise anxiety, construct greater self-knowledge and resilience, just like hard play and falls. It's a possibility to beat fear on your personal terms, in an environment where you may safely push your limits. Since you usually are not in real danger and due to this fact not concerned with survival, you may observe your reactions and body changes, gaining greater insight into yourself.

Friends are stuck together in a haunted house from “The Gates of Hell”.
AP Photo/John Locher

What does it take to be afraid safely?

While there are countless differences in the character, content, intensity and overall quality of haunted attractions, horror movies and other types of scary entertainment, all of them share a couple of key elements that help pave the best way for a fun and scary time.

First of all, it is advisable make a selection about whether or not you would like to commit – don't drag your best friend along unless she's also on board. But try to assemble some friends whenever you're ready. When you engage in activities with other people, even just watching a movie, your personal emotional experiences intensify. Doing intense, exciting and thrilling things together could make it more fun and help create fulfilling social connections. Emotions might be contagiousso whenever you see your friend screaming and laughing, you might feel compelled to do the identical.

Regardless of the potential advantages, horror and scary entertainment isn't for everybody, and that's okay. Although the fight-or-flight response is common, there are vital differences between individuals – in genetic expression, environment, and private history, for instance – that help explain why some people hate and others love thrills and chills.

No matter your taste (or aversion) to all things horror or thrills, having an attitude of adventure and curiosity can profit anyone. After all, we’re the descendants of those that were adventurous and curious enough to find the brand new and novel, but additionally fast and intelligent enough to flee or fight when danger presented itself. This Halloween, perhaps challenge yourself with a minimum of one fun and scary experience and prepare to unleash your inner superhero.


Margee Kerr doesn’t work for, seek the advice of for, own stock in or receive funding from any company or organization which may profit from this text, and has not disclosed any relevant affiliations beyond her academic position.

Image Source: Pixabay.com

  • J.W.H

    About John:

    John Williams is a Reincarnationist paranormal Intuitive freelance writer...he is living proof of reincarnation existence, through his personal exploration, he has confirmed its authenticity through visits to the very lands where these events transpired.

    Through guided meditation/s using hemi-sync technology he has managed to recollect 3 previous lives to his own, that go back to the Mid to Late 19th century.

    JWH - "You are the GODS! - Inclusion of the Eternal Light of Love and you shall never die”.

    “Death is Just the Beginning of Life”