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The Dragon Post

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Why We Like Scarey Things

The Science Behind of the Appeal of Horror and Why Humans are Drawn to it

Happy October, a time of horrors. This is a favored time of year for many because of the thrill of Halloween’s horror. But why is that? Why do people want to be scared? 

The thrill of fear and panic sends an adrenaline rush through us. And a lot of people crave that adrenaline rush and that stimulation. That stimulation of fear and that energy boost can be experienced as fun and pleasurable. That adrenaline increase in our brains does not only result in pleasure but also results in our moods being elevated after that adrenaline increase. It is not only adrenaline alone being released in the brain, but also cortisol and noradrenaline as well. Together, the release of cortisol, adrenaline, and noradrenaline readies the body to react to the threat response. After the rush of these hormones, we feel better. Have you ever felt dread or fear before going on a rollercoaster ride or going through a haunted house, or during the build up of suspense right before the climax of a horror movie? And then after you go on the rollercoaster or after you exit the haunted house or after the climax of the horror movie, you feel a sense of relief and maybe even bravery to do it again. That is a feeling that keeps drawing us to more frightening experiences. Because we want to feel secure and know that we are safe and can endure and tolerate anxiety-inducing experiences. We also have an urge to test ourselves on how much fear we can take before it’s too much. 

That search for horror also is an opportunity for novelty. Gaining new and fearfully exciting experiences open up our world views and let us experience the dark side of things. Deviance and abnormalities of human behavior is appealing to us because it’s different. Different is interesting. It sparks curiosity in us and makes us want to understand more. And identifying and facing things that scare or frighten us helps us gain more control over our disposition and emotional state. It turns out playing around with your fears is a good opportunity for self-learning and control. And letting yourself be exposed to these fears and sensations causes an emotional release, which is cathartic. 

So in conclusion, humans are drawn to horror because we crave stimulation and new, different experiences as well as the feeling of security and after enduring a frightening experience. And experiencing horror can be beneficial to us because it offers a self-learning opportunity as well as a cathartic release. 



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The Psychology Behind Why We Love (or Hate) Horror


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