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The Demon Tattler

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The Demon Tattler

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Why Do People Like to Be Scared?

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Humans love being scared. Some love it so much that they pay for the experience: they go to haunted houses, watch horror movies, and dress up in frightening costumes, all to feel something that is usually regarded as an undesirable emotion. So why is it that people like to be scared? 

Well, there are many reasons, and it isn’t the same for everyone. 

“I like being scared sometimes,” said Alee Armijo, a student at SFHS. “It depends. I like to scare myself and feel the adrenaline, as I’m quite an adrenaline junkie. The only time I don’t like to be scared is when the whole situation is out of my control, like if I was kidnapped or if it was something involving one of my phobias,” she elaborated. 

According to Dr. Margee Kerr, a sociologist that specializes in the science of fear, most people’s enjoyment of fear ends once the generator of fear becomes out of their control. In her article  “Why is it fun to be frightened?” Dr. Kerr details how she conducted an experiment to observe how people react to fear. Using EEG (electroencephalogram) technology to test the electrical activity in the brain while subjects walked through a haunted house, she was able to observe not only how their bodies physically reacted, but also how their brains reacted to the horror, both before and after.

What she found was that in a controlled environment when the participants are subconsciously aware that something scary is going to happen, they feel a sense of calmness and allow themselves to feel all the good parts of fear. And when the event is over, the brain is almost shut off and reset to a state of mindfulness that people quite enjoy. 

“Scared means a lot of different things to me because there are very many different spectrums of being scared,” stated SFHS student Julian Hedrick. “For example, a scary house and a fatal car crash. One guarantees I’ll make it, yet the other doesn’t have that sort of safety net.” 

Another factor as to why people like to be scared, according to Dr. Kerr, is the euphoric feeling they tend to feel after surviving a fear-inducing event. People will often go into a horror attraction feeling normal and relaxed and leave feeling as though they ran a 5k race. This is because even though a haunted house and a marathon are vastly different, they do both provide a feeling of uncertainty and adrenaline when a person doesn’t know if they’re going to make it or not. When they do survive, their brain reads it as an accomplishment. 

The emotional connection between two people who are scared together is also a reason someone may seek out the thrill of fear. “I see myself as someone who only likes to be scared when I know it’s fake, or when I’m with someone else,” said SFHS student Ethan Ayoub. “I just really don’t like being alone when feeling scared because it makes me feel unsafe.” When two people get scared together or are in a scary situation and they make it out together, they have the shared experience of being afraid. 

People who like to be scared typically enjoy the thrill for a reason that may not even be known to them, but rather their subconscious telling them that they like feeling as if they ran a marathon, or were brought closer to someone else. Being scared can tell us a lot about ourselves, and different types of fear trigger different parts of our brains to react in different ways. But at the end of the day, most of us enjoy being scared in some way.

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