Why We Enjoy Getting Scared Out Of Our Wits

October 30, 2018

© Razvan Ionut Dragomirescu | Dreamstime

It's the time of year where haunted houses and scary movies are the centerpiece of life, but why is it some people can't get enough of these spooky activities?  Because getting the fear scared out of your puts you in a better mood. Researchers say after having a voluntary scary experience, people were in better moods and had decreased brain activity overall.  Similar to the runner’s high experience, where you’re really pushing yourself and your sympathetic nervous system is in go-mode. Once you’re out of the scary situation (one where there was never any real threat to begin with), your feel-good endorphins are coursing through your body. For the study, they recruited people who had already purchased tickets for ScareHouse, allowing them to study people who voluntarily submit to terrifying activities for social or recreational reasons. After going through the haunted house, about half of people reported being in a better mood, while 33% reported no significant change and 17% reported a worse mood; there were no significant gender differences. Most people said they felt happy after going through the haunted house, while fewer people reported feeling tired and anxious after the haunted house than they did before. Mood increases were particularly significant among people who said they had “challenged their fears,” and among those who described the experience as “intense” and “thrilling.”


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