Why do we like being scared?

Being that halloween just pass… it left me thinking why do we enjoy being scared. Why is there a holiday designated to scaring people? Some of us voluntary pay to go to a haunted house, or a scary movie. Some of us also drive to “haunted” sites in order to get a thrill. But, why?


Picture found here.

According to an article I found here, it has to do with your emotion and memories. Memories with high emotion; wether it be fear, sadness, or joy, tend to leave a lasting impression and therefore a stronger sense of memory .

It has to do everything with your processing centers in your brain that deal with emotions. This would include your prefrontal cortex, hippocampus, amygdala, and insula. When we are scared our body goes into fight or flight mode; meaning slowed digestion, increased heart rate, dilated pupils, bladder relaxation etc. Meaning there is a ton of chemical reactions taking place in our body, those being valuable if you needed to fight or run for your life. Some of these chemicals are also emitted when your happy or excited; which then results in the same expectation for these emotions in general.

Obviously not everybody likes being scared though which is fine. Everybody has a different experience. When people who seek this feeling experience it, they become happy; a sense of empowerment almost. There is a release of the feel good hormone dopamine. This can obviously cause people a source of happiness. It can also be a reminder of our mental toughness and the exhilaration that comes to follow.

Bottom line, If you enjoy being scared (as I do), then your reactions are natural and fulfilling. If you don’t, try not to put yourself in these situations because they can clearly result in a stressful toll on your body! Avoid it or don’t avoid it!


Picture found here.


4 thoughts on “Why do we like being scared?

  1. Amanda Voirrey Rust

    I have also strangely been a fan of that thrill from being scared. Or is it strange? After reading your article and thinking about it, it may not be so strange. Humans crave excitement, whether it be drama, fun, or terror. Just think about why people go on roller coasters. For me it is not enjoyable, but other people love it. In this article, people compare horror movies to this physical thrill that they get. http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/features/halloween-horror-films-movies-scared-a6713446.html
    Although others may not crave the same types of feelings and emotions, I think that these chemical reactions are extremely apparent when we are in certain situations.

  2. Connor Edward Opalisky

    Personally I have never been a fan of haunted attractions or sites. My mom is a huge fan, and I always wondered what she got out of them. Curious about the science behind haunted houses, I found an article from Scientific American that explains what scares us and why. Basically, the brain is programmed to function on normal sights and normal sounds, and any action that disrupts the normal pattern of the brain causes us to become “scared.” The extent that a person becomes frightened varies depending on their background, previous experiences, and the chemical make up of their brain. While one person might get frightened from seeing a snake, another person might not mind the snake but be terrified by clowns.

  3. Akhil Dharmavaram

    People enjoying horror movies or scary attractions is something that I will never understand. I am deathly afraid of horror and try to avoid it as much as possible. According to the article below, people that enjoy fear have a different dopamine re-uptake system in their brains which allow them to enjoy those scary thrills more than others. The stereotype of black people hating horror and scary situations more than others bring a study to mind. Perhaps if there was a study that observed the brains of African Americans, there might be more a prevalence of this different dopamine re-uptake system.


  4. Rachel Waite

    Ever since I was little I have always been terrified of anything relatively scary. I would avoid horror movies and haunted house like the plague, and I still do. For me the adrenaline rush and exhilaration some experience putting themselves in those situations I do not at all find appealing. However I am curious as the comparison between that same feeling of getting scared by a fake zombie and the feeling of being on a roller coaster, or other thrilling rides. All of the reactions ones experiences when in that “fight or flight” mode all seem to correspond with the feeling of ripping through sharp turns and upside-down loops on thrill rides. I think it would be intriguing to monitor someone’s brain while on a thrill ride to see if similar regions like the amygdala and prefrontal cortex light up in the same way as someone being scared.

Leave a Reply