Latest News

Fans of fear: Why we love being scared

Photo by Natalie Allen | The Wright State Guardian

Photo by Natalie Allen | The Wright State Guardian

Halloween is coming soon, which means it is the season for haunted houses, scary movies, and spooky costumes.

While some people may opt to carve pumpkins and go trick-or-treating, others seek out frightening experiences and enjoy getting scared.

Finding fun in fear

Some are fascinated with the supernatural and abnormal because it is out of the realms of their reality.

WebMD writes those who seek out intense situations like to get a thrill out of being scared because they enjoy the physical sensations that come with fear.

This includes the initial adrenaline rush, perspiration, and fast heart rate.

However, not everyone is the thrill-seeking type and are disturbed by intense horror movies.

WebMD states when “The Exorcist” was released in 1973, many adults were hospitalized because they felt such intense feelings of distress.

It’s the endorphins

Even so, fear releases a flood of “feel-good” chemicals, such as endorphins and dopamine, that give people a sense of euphoria.

According to an article written by NBC, once the adrenaline rush is over, people are able to experience a sense of well-being and relief.

Scary situations allow people to feel like they have overcome a challenge once they get over the initial feelings of fear.

An article written by Psychology Today states people like being scared when they know they are in a controlled environment.

They can enjoy the situation more if they know they can leave the situation if it becomes too much for them.

Confronting our fears?

Dr. Patricia Smith of the Department of Psychology at Wright State says people make trips to haunted houses to confront the things they are afraid of and receive social support for that.

Some people feel empowered when they are able to conquer something they are scared of.

“We usually do not go by ourselves to haunted houses. We learn what we’re afraid of and can confront our fears because we lived through it,” said Smith.

Smith is a research professor and senior lecturer in the behavioral neuroscience concentration within the School of Psychology at Wright State.

“Some, though, experience sympathetic activation. They breathe faster and their heart rate increases. It is not just the excitement and fear but a reinforcing arousal,” said Smith.