Why is it Fun to Be Frightened?

It’s the time of year for all things spooky and scary, including horror movies pegged to the Halloween season. But why is it so much fun for us to be frightened by these kind of things? University of Pittsburgh sociologist Margee Kerr set out to find out by setting up a lab in the basement of an extreme haunted attraction. Before entering the attraction, 262 people completed a survey about what they expected and how they were feeling, and then they answered questions again after they’d gone through it. They found that people reported a significantly higher mood and felt less anxious and tired after the attraction, and the scarier the experience the higher the effect. They also reported a sense of achievement in feeling that they’d challenged their personal fears and learned about themselves. Kerr says, “It’s an opportunity to engage with fear on your own terms, in environments where you can push your boundaries, safely. Because you’re not in real danger, and thus not occupied with survival, you can choose to observe your reactions and how your body changes, gaining greater insight to yourself.” This doesn’t work for everyone, however, since everyone’s different and we’re not all wired the same way, so many people don’t enjoy the feeling of being scared. (LiveScience)