APR 22, 2016 03:17 PM PDT

Why We Fancy a Good Fright

WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham

If you've ever queued up for the latest horror film hoping to have a good scare, you're not alone. In October of 2015, about 28 million people visited haunted houses looking for the exact thing - a good fright that makes their heart pound like drums. But why do like these fear-inducing events, and how does our body react to the suspense?

Deep down, we know that the supposed death-drop of roller coaster or the scary scenes in a movie don't pose real dangers to us. We assessed the risks as minimal and know we aren't in an actual "fight-or-flight" mode. But the body's responses to these intentional scary situations are the same as if it were real: chemicals are released and trigger a range of emotions. And because the context of the situation is safe, we feel a natural "high" from being scared.

But clearly, some people are more prone to chasing thrills and scares than others. And because emotions are contagious, these people tend to enjoy seeking scary adventures together, as their collective experience can boost the effects of a good scare.
About the Author
  • I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at TheGeneTwist.com.
You May Also Like
SEP 24, 2018
Videos
SEP 24, 2018
The Science of Being Transgender
Gender identity is an issue that some have trouble understanding. It’s not always about male or female, because gender can encompass more than those...
OCT 04, 2018
Videos
OCT 04, 2018
Understanding Fibromyalgia
Many people wonder exactly what causes Fibromyalgia, since there was never a definite answer, some question if the disease is even real despite the pain be...
OCT 04, 2018
Videos
OCT 04, 2018
Zebrafish as Metastatic Cancer Model
Another Koch Institute Image Award winner from 2018 is presented in this video from MIT....
OCT 05, 2018
Chemistry & Physics
OCT 05, 2018
Nuclear Reactor, Constructed by Nature
Uranium-235, making up about 0.72% of natural uranium on Earth, is a fissile isotope that fuels the nuclear chain reaction.  Back in 1972, staffs who...
OCT 17, 2018
Chemistry & Physics
OCT 17, 2018
The Science Behind Tardigrade's Ability to Survive Dehydration
Tardigrades, also known as water bears, are a type of eight-legged micro-animals that are less than half-millimeter in length.  There are over a thous...
OCT 21, 2018
Videos
OCT 21, 2018
What's up With Gluten?
It took many years for scientists to discover that gluten sensitivity was a real condition....
Loading Comments...