While some people cover their eyes, plug their ears, and think happy thoughts when put in front of a horror movie, others would love to sit back and watch one with a bucket of popcorn in their lap. While the feeling of being scared is not appealing to me, the feeling of being scared-speechless may sound fun to some. Researchers have found that the feeling of an addictive adrenaline rush and other factors play a large role in why people enjoy horror movies.
So the question is, what exactly makes us enjoy being scared? In the article, “Why do So Many People Like Horror Movies? Six Reasons We Love Being Scared” By Patti Greco, she states, “... Your body goes into fight-or-flight mode, which means it’s flooded with adrenaline and euphoria-inducing brain chemicals like endorphins and dopamine-all of which can pump you up and make you feel like you're ready to take on the world.” While this may sound like a bunch of random chemicals, we actually experience endorphins and dopamine daily. Endorphins and Dopamine are chemicals in the brain that are released when something positive, exciting, or stressful happens. Things like laughing, dancing, or eating your favorite food can trigger the release of these chemicals. The feeling of Endorphins being released is often described as the accomplished, satisfied, feeling you get after you’ve finished a good workout; The same feeling you get after you go through a haunted house. The thrill, excitement, and stress we get from watching horror movies and going through a haunted house can all trigger the release of these addictive-feeling chemicals.
Another reason people enjoy horror movies and going through scary haunted houses is that they know they are safe. People can get the scary experience and adrenaline rush without being in actual danger. In the passage, “The Psychology Behind Why We Love (or Hate) Horror” By Haiyang yang and kuangiie Zhang, the authors say, “...although the evil entity in a movie might be committing terrifying acts in front of our eyes, we can derive pleasure from the horror as long as we believe the evil entity is physically distant from us and hence cannot cause harm to us. If, however, we start to believe the evil entity is coming out of the screen to hurt us, then the experience will no longer be fun.” This helps us better understand the concept of being in a safe, controlled environment and being scared, versus actually being in a scary situation.
While the feeling of being surrounded by gruesome scenes, zombies, murders and the macabre is still not appealing to me, I can understand how it might be to others. Being in a safe controlled environment, and having the feeling of good endorphins and an adrenaline rush can make watching horror movies and going through haunted houses a fun thrilling, and enjoyable activity to do to celebrate the spooky season. So this Halloween, will you be watching "The Purge" or "Hocus Pocus?"