Ghosts, Poltergeists, Demon Possessions, Horror Movies and of course Haunted Houses. It’s that time of year, and Debbie Lazaga takes a closer look at WHY people like to get scared.
How many times have you watched a horror movie, and flat out Jumped off the couch from a jump scare? After your heart rate gets back down to normal, what do you do? You go RIGHT BACK to watching more. WHY?!
According to UW Professor of Consumer Science, Christine Whelan, “It turns out that there’s a subset of us that really like watching scary movies, in part because we feel like we can move through the fear.”
So what happens when we get scared? Whelan says, “We usually talk about it in terms of Fight, Flight and Freeze. So fighting means you would have an adrenaline rush, and you would be ready to attack your enemy. We can engage in ‘flight,’ which means we would run away. And then there’s ‘freeze,’ where we just stop and then hope that we look like a tree or something, and our enemy goes around us and ignores us.”
Its evolutionary. It comes from our ancient ancestors that needed these reactions to survive.
Filmmaker and Professor at Concordia College in Canada, Dr. Donato Totaro explains, “When 30, 40, 50,000 years ago a regular day was filled with a lot of adrenaline. There was a lot more instances of us having to sort of build up adrenaline and then discharge it. It feels good when you get rid of that energy.”
Nowadays, we get the adrenaline rush and it comes down and endorphines happen. We have a shared experience with friends knowing we were able to overcome this adversity and that feels good.
So, for the purposes of research, I decided to go to a haunted house myself… and I dragged Melissa Barclay along with me, because there’s NO WAY I’m going on my own. We went to the 3D Haunted House and Museum. It’s run by Laura Baines with her husband, kids and some neighborhood kids volunteering to help.
They did a great job. We did scream. And after the tour, we asked Laura why she thinks people like to be scared, “With the haunted house, with our story mode, you get to experience the zombies in real life, without actually dying. Having that experience without actually getting hurt, it’s a different feeling.”
That’s the crux of it, isn’t it? You experience the stress and fear, but it’s in a safe space and nothing is going to happen to you really. And that makes all the difference.