Why is being scared so fun? – Margee Kerr


Somewhere right now,
people are lining up to scare themselves, maybe with a thrill ride or horror movie. In fact, in October of 2015 alone, about 28 million people visited
a haunted house in the U.S. But many consider
this behavior perplexing, asking the question, “What could possibly be fun
about being scared?” Fear has a bad rap, but it’s not all bad. For starters,
fear can actually feel pretty good. When a threat triggers
our fight or flight response, our bodies prepare for danger by releasing chemicals that change
how our brains and bodies function. This automatic response jumpstarts
systems that can aid in survival. They do this by making sure
we have enough energy and are protected from feeling pain, while shutting down nonessential systems,
like critical thought. Feeling pain-free and energized, while not getting caught up in worrisome
thoughts that normally occupy our brains, that all sounds great, and it can be because this response
is similar, though not exactly the same to what we experience in positive,
high-arousal states, like excitement, happiness,
and even during sex. The difference lays in the context. If we’re in real danger, we’re focused
on survival, not fun. But when we trigger this high arousal
response in a safe place, we can switch over to enjoying
the natural high of being scared. It’s why people on roller coasters can go
from screaming to laughing within moments. Your body is already in a euphoric state. You’re just relabeling the experience. And though the threat response
is universal, research shows differences
between individuals in how the chemicals associated
with the threat response work. This explains why some are more prone
to thrill-seeking than others. Other normal physical differences explain why some may love the dizziness
associated with a loop-de-loop, while loathing the stomach-drop sensation
of a steep roller coaster, or why some squeal with delight
inside a haunted house, but retreat in terror
if taken to an actual cemetery. Fear brings more
than just a fun, natural high. Doing things that we’re afraid of
can give us a nice boost of self-esteem. Like any personal challenge, whether it’s running a race
or finishing a long book, when we make it through to the end, we feel a sense of accomplishment. This is true even if we know
we’re not really in any danger. Our thinking brains may know
the zombies aren’t real, but our bodies tell us otherwise. The fear feels real, so when we make it through alive, the satisfaction and sense
of accomplishment also feel real. This is a great evolutionary adaptation. Those who had the right balance
of bravery and wit to know when to push through the fear
and when to retreat were rewarded with survival, new food, and new lands. Finally, fear can bring people together. Emotions can be contagious, and when you see your friend
scream and laugh, you feel compelled to do the same. This is because we make sense of what
our friends are experiencing by recreating the experience ourselves. In fact, the parts of the brain
that are active when our friend screams are active in us when we watch them. This not only intensifies
our own emotional experience, but makes us feel closer
to those we’re with. The feeling of closeness during
times of fear is aided by the hormone oxytocin
released during fight or flight. Fear is a powerful emotional experience, and anything
that triggers a strong reaction is going to be stored in our memory
really well. You don’t want to forget
what can hurt you. So if your memory of watching a horror
film with your friends is positive and left you with a sense of satisfaction, then you’ll want to do it over
and over again.

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Comments

  1. I could ride a rollercoaster a thousand times and feel great but can't be happy watching a horror movie. Even if my friends laugh throughout it.

  2. how to have great time while scaring
    do these with your brother sister friend or cousin
    1 download a horror (i highly recomend fnaf or granny)
    2 turn off lights
    3 make sure your phone's voice is at full
    4 get yourself a pillow cuz your going to use it to cover your face
    5 open up the app (make sure youre near to a hospital cuz youre gonna have a heart attack)

  3. Thank you for this video. I used it to help me complete my gifted project on "Why do people enjoy being scared?".

  4. I don't really agree because I love rollercoasters (I like the speed sensation), but it's never a pleasure for me to watch an horror film. However, I don't care at all to be in cimetery in the night.

  5. I was on a thrill ride for the first time with my friend (note: I hate thrill rides) and as I was screaming in fear, my friend was laughing her head off (likely at my screaming in terror). At that moment I remembered thinking, "what monster have I befriended"

  6. Being scared is fun? Yeah right,until you fear you caught H.I.V.-A.I.D.S. or H.S.V. 2,see how fun that is if you love fear. Smh.

  7. 0:14 to 0:19 that is a lot of people but because it’s the month with Halloween that would affect the numbers a lot

  8. Yeah. I like watching scary movies, my dad thinks I'm crazy for watching them in the first place…..HE should talk HE likes watching war movies….with the sound really loud….drives me nuts

  9. the horror movie scenario was pretty good, because the samething happendend when I watched ouija for the first time.

  10. Great info and TED-Ed

    ‼️‼️Well that explains psychologically and physically logically why I love roller coasters and the simulation a zero gravity.‼️‼️

    Is my Zen moment along with music therapy dancing and let the music take me there is singing fun songs‼️
    Like he said, you can think about all your issues and problems we are floating in the air with zero gravity or dancing your tail off, or Jamming to your favorite song.… However yoga and meditation is the COMPLETE OPPOSITE‼️. My mind is WAY TOO ACTIVE to get any benefit from hypnotism, yoga and meditation‼️‼️ They’re completely useless to me. However dancing singing a roller coaster however are always great therapy‼️‼️

  11. 2:15 I’m the opposite of that squirrel.
    I don’t like horror movies, but I’m totally fine with haunted houses, and I WANT to visit cemeteries

  12. Nothing releases that sweet, sweet dopamine like the monsters from A Quiet Place. A close second is Michael Myers, the true master slasher.

  13. Honestly its not being scared i just get so much adrenaline on them that i smile even 1h after the ride

  14. Even before watching the video from the title alone what I had in mind was CATHARSIS, I was wrong

  15. Guy points gun at my head
    Me: Well this is fun!
    Yes I know there’s different feelings if you’re actually in danger, it’s a joke.

  16. First of all I am a coaster enthusiast and when he keeps on saying ”loop at the loops” it triggers me so hard it’s called an inversion

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