FRANKFORT, Ky. (10/14/13) – Every year for Halloween, Americans spend millions of dollars on scary fun. From teens to adults, they seem to crave a good spine-chilling scene from scary movies to haunted houses.
According to the University of Utah, people enjoy the thrill of being scared because deep down they know it isn’t real. Because of the underlying awareness of the experience, people understand the real risks of these events are marginal. It’s more of the feeling of excitement rather than the actual feeling of fear. Most teens and adults can realistically measure the actual level of threat that scary stimuli positions for them and correspondingly their safety level.
For example, while watching a scary movie, it cannot cause actual harm, but the psychological threat being that they might have nightmares after will happen. Therefore, viewers feel safe watching something horrifying and are excited by it, but not truly afraid.
In addition to people enjoying being scared for biological reasons, your body releases adrenaline and other hormones that provide extra energy to help deal with a scary situation. When you are in “actual” danger, these overwhelming hormones help you fight. Whereas, when the danger is simulated, your mind knows you’re safe and able to enjoy the extra energy.
Some adults and most children are unable to decipher and perceive the fear while in scary situations or watching a scary movie. This is why children become scared more so than an adult. They have less experience at gauging their safety of “spooky” things they may see or hear. A child may observe harmless Halloween fun as a serious threat to their safety.
However, by dressing up as their fears, they are able to embrace them more closely, by taking control to a certain extent. Halloween serves to serve a valuable function for many people. It continues to be popular because it fills that basic need to address the mysteries that frighten them.
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