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Why Do People Like to Be Scared?

Why Do People Like to Be Scared?

To some people, fall is the best time of the year because it means scary movies, haunted houses, and Halloween. To others, paying to be scared seems like a ridiculous idea. Maybe you’ve wondered, “why do people like scary things?” or maybe you’re someone who loves horror movies. Either way, there is some science behind why horror movies and things alike are popular.

Catharsis: Greek Philosopher Aristotle said that people were attracted to scary stories and violent dramatic plays because it gave them a chance to purge their negative emotions- a process he called catharsis. So, if we go by his theory, that means we watch violent movies and play violent video games to release the pent-up feelings of aggression.

Psychoanalytic theory by Freud and Jung: To Freud, horror was a manifestation of the “uncanny,” reoccurring thoughts and feelings that have been repressed by the ego but which seem vaguely familiar to the individual. Jung, on the other hand, argued that horror gained its popularity from the fact that it touched on important archetypes or primordial images that he said resided in the collective unconscious.

Adrenaline rush: When we watch scary movies, we can face our fears, but since we know that it’s just a movie we don’t have to face anything in reality. For the time being, it tickles certain fight or flight responses that are entertaining. So, just for a short span of time, we are willing to endure the terror in order to enjoy a euphoric sense of relief at the end. We seem to enjoy the adrenaline rush of being scared while being safe.

Dispositional Alignment: People seem to enjoy the violence in horror movies when it is directed against those they believe are deserving of such treatment. This observation gave rise to dispositional alignment theory in which it is hypothesized that a person’s emotional reactions to events portrayed in a horror film can be traced back to the dispositional feelings they have for the person involved.

It’s normal to like scary things, so don’t think that you are crazy or evil if you’re a horror lover. If you don’t like being scared, maybe go to a costume party instead of a haunted house this Halloween.


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