why do we like to be scared
As a chill enters the airáand as everything that can be made pumpkin is made pumpkin, our attention turns to spider webs, jack-o-lanters, and the macabre. á The scary season is upon us and before we know it, we long to walk down fog filled paths with dimly lit candles and dry rustling leaves. We decorate our houses, dress up ourselves, our kids, and our, and go out looking for the best-haunted house, corn maze, or scary movie. Even those with little to no taste for the startle of a haunted hayride savor the comforting yet undeniably spooky nostalgia triggered by the changing leaves and
of spiced cider. Indeed, since 2005, for a total of $6. 9 billion in 2013. So why do we it so much? á The answers are many. To begin with, much like Thanksgiving, Halloween is a once a year ÁholidayÁ we experience with our friends and family, making it an intense social and emotional experience that bonds us to those we love. From a childÁs first trip to a pumpkin patch with her, to her first trick-or-treating with friends, these moments stand out in our mind because of the strong emotions they illicit. á The combination of friends, thrills, chills and spooky things thrusts our body, namely the emotional processing centers in our (amygdala, insula, prefrontal cortex, hippocampus) into a perfect state for. We store intense emotional experiences than non-emotional experiences, itÁs our bodies way of making sure we remember what makes us feel good (and to seek it out more) and what makes us feel bad (and to stay away). Usually when weÁre scared it IS a bad thing, itÁs our bodies well developed threat response system letting us know something is not quite right, and preparing us to run or fight. This sophisticated system triggers a chemical cascade meant to help us survive: adrenaline, endorphins, serotonin, among others flood our bodies and brains during (and for a while after) a scary situation. But this response shares a lot with other high arousal responses, like when weÁre happy, excited, and surprised. The context is what is important when it comes to whether we put a positive or negative spin on the experience. Being scared lost in the woods alone with no help in sightÁbad; being scared lost in a haunted house with your friends, with professionals no more than twenty feet away ready to whisk you out of dangerÁgood! á á Not everyone likes being scared though, even in a safe place.
For some a racing heart, sweaty palms, and the grueling weight of anticipation is just too much to tolerate, let alone purposefully induce. But for others, and it seems those with particularly efficient and systems, being scared in a safe place is a source of enjoyment and makes them feel good. It can even serve as a boost, reminding us that we can make it through a scary situation, we are strong. Then of course there is the enjoyment that comes from putting on a mask and pretending to be someone else, or in some cases oneÁs true self, for a nightá (not including those who use it as an opportunity to exploit, oppress, or harm others, thatÁs just cowardly and awful). Whether it is a very conscious and calculated decision to take a Á holidayÁ (similar to Mardi Gras) and express the parts of the self kept suppressed the rest of the year, or to experiment with what it might feel like in a different skin, the ability to be something else, with little to no consequence, is all to appealing. And for many who choose to wear the mask of something that is ÁotherÁ they are reminded of their own and reaffirm their own selfhood. Or perhaps finally decide that it is time to switch which is the mask, and which is the true self. And then there is the candy. ALL THE CANDY. What other time of year is it acceptable to eat a bag of peanut butter cups? It is indulgence to the fullest degree. But also like Mardi Gras, in our indulgence we are reminded of the importance of restraint and moderation. So there you have it, Halloween is loaded with intense emotional triggers: the nostalgia of Halloweens past, the excitement and exhilaration of dressing up in costume with friends, the thrill of anticipating when someone jumps out to go ÁBOO,Á and of course the activation of our reward systems via the consumption of delicious candy. á It is a perfect recipe for strong, positive emotional. á So go ahead, eat and drink all the pumpkiná things,á indulge in the candy and suspend all disblief as you walk into the fog,á and recapture the joy of imagination and the pure exhiliaration that comes with a followed by a scream. á Whether itÁs an alien bursting out of a manÁs chest cavity in Alien, a possessed Regan MacNeil bent over backward scurrying down the stairs in The Exorcist or the sound of Freddy KruegerÁs knives against a metal railing, everyone has that one horror scene that curdles their blood.
While some simply canÁt handle the feelings of fear that horror induces, others relish in it and canÁt get enough. And with Halloween not too far away, Átis the season for fright-seekers to get their scare on Á and they canÁt wait. But what is it about being scared that appeals to people? READ MORE: Well, first of all, itÁs not just any type of fear that people find amusing, itÁs a controlled type of fear, Steve Joordens, aá psychology professor at the University of Toronto Scarborough, says. This means that as long as we know weÁre in a safe environment while watching or partaking in scary events, then thatÁs the type of fear we tend to like. If itÁs a real-life situation that we have no control over (think a shooting scenario) then thatÁs a type of fear we donÁt tend to like. ÁNone of us actually want to feel real fear,Á he explains. ÁReal fear does have that overarching ÁIÁm going to dieÁ and for most of us that can be extremely scary. So anyone who has been a part of a highly fearful situation would not generally walk away thinking it was fun. Á According to Joordens, the brain has two different modes: parasympathetic mode (which focuses on long-term survival, for example, digestion) and the sympathetic mode (which focuses on short-term survival). Joordens explains that when people find themselves in a life or death situation, thatÁs when our brainá switches to the latter. ÁThatÁs what gets our hearts beating, breathing hard and generally our mouth goes dry because our digestive processes are stopping,Á Joordens explains. ÁAnd itÁs all about fight or flight, getting oxygen to the muscles and making the muscles ready. It quite literally is exciting and that is the basic fear reaction, and what humans seem to really like is flirting with that. Á But when it comes to that controlled sense of fear where we know our lives are not in danger, thatÁs the kind of spook we tend to like. ÁThe flirtation with fear is more when you can kind of put yourself in a situation where you get a version of those things happening but youÁre always aware of the fact that thereÁs something Á some sort of wall between you and the actual life or death situation,Á Joordens says.
ÁWhen youÁre in a movie theyÁre always working things up, like something jumps out or thereÁs a lot of gore, but you always know that youÁre watching a movie. Á So what that does is create those feelings Á that activation of excitement that builds up in you, and you canÁt wait to let it out, Joordens says. ÁYou canÁt wait for that release,Á he says. ÁSo what makes these things fun is that when something scary finally happens, anybody who has that built-up tension tends to release it through laughter or screaming, but itÁs ultimately safe and thatÁs what allows it to be fun. Á Yet not everyone likes those feelings and it all comes down to personality, Joordens says. But itÁs tough to pinpoint which personalities will enjoy these feelings and which ones wonÁt, so itÁs really up in the air. READ MORE: According to 2015 study out of, researchers found that when people expose themselves to frightful media, they do so because they tend to like putting themselves in the scenarios theyÁre watching and enjoy the feeling of surviving the fake experiences. ÁI think we share fear experiences because it is something that connects us on a very primal level,Á co-author Teresa Lynch said in a statement. And lastly, the love of fear comes down to brain chemistry, specifically chemicals like dopamine. While dopamine is responsible for the feelings of accomplishment, a 2008 study by the also found that it is linked to emotions like fear and dread. But psychiatrist David Zald told Business Insider that people who tend to like scary things also have a difficult time regulating their brainsÁ dopamine release. So in a sense, their brains tend to soak up dopamine for a longer period of time, meaning they tend to get more out of the experience because they end up with higher levels of the chemical. So there you have it fright seekers Á the explanation for your love of horror comes down to you being a slave to your bodyÁs chemicals and biology, just like a zombie, no? 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
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