Some people love to go to horror movies. I wonder why but perhaps people really love to be scared? But have you wondered why? Apparently there are reasons for this.
- Your brain knows you’re safe.
When something scary enters our awareness, whether real or made up, fear induces the fight-or-flight response, according to Dr. John Mayer, a practicing Clinical Psychologist who specializes in families, children, and young adults. At that point, your body determines if there is a real threat or not, and acts appropriately to allow you to save yourself if the situation calls for it, Dr. Mayer told INSIDER. “If there is no threat, the physiological and psychological mechanisms calm, and there is no more reaction,” he said.
2) Fight-or-flight still kicks in — but to your benefit.
If your body senses you are not threatened, you will still experience fear, but instead of releasing hormones that make you stronger and faster for defense mode, your body releases hormones that essentially make you feel good under the right circumstances, according to sociologist Margee Kerr PhD.
For instance, if you’re on a roller coaster or walking through a haunted house, your brain knows you are safe no matter what may ‘threaten your life’ during that time. Kerr describes what happens as our body “hijacking the flight response and enjoying it.” She compares it to a “high arousal state” our body goes into when we’re excited or surprised.
3) Your body responds to fear differently in a controlled environment.
You’ll often hear people laughing after a big scare because the body releases dopamine when we’re afraid, a hormone that creates a high state of arousal (not sexual) similar to what we feel when we’re excited or happy.
You also may find that you eat more when you’re scared. According to Dr. Mayer, when the body is afraid, a hormone called cortisol is released, increasing blood sugar and blood pressure. The allostatic load also increases, which is the wear and tear the body experiences when exposed to chronic stress.
4) How much you like being scared has to do with your body’s chemical makeup.
According to a study led by Vanderbilt University’s David H. Zald, it’s possible this stems from the body’s number of autoreceptors, molecules that control how much dopamine and other chemicals are released.
People with fewer autoreceptors may get more dopamine from a scare, leading to an addiction to thrilling situations. “Think of dopamine like gasoline. You combine that with a brain equipped with a lesser ability to put on the brakes than normal, and you get people who push limits,” according to Zald.
5) Your personality and temperament may determine if you enjoy scare tactics.
For others, the desire to stick with rom-coms and action films may come from their personality and temperament. People who like to be challenged and enjoy thrills often find getting scared exciting. Those who have a more shy and sensitive temperament are less likely to go after those experiences, according to psychiatrist Katherine Brownlowe.
So when you sign up for the next horror movie, understand that it may be because you really enjoy a good scare. Boo!