What Is So Fun About Fear?


Gracie Green, Editor-in-Chief

Fear is the unpleasant feeling of danger or feeling threatened.  So why do people watch scary movies, go to haunted houses, and ride roller-coasters? Why is there one night every year when people all across the world dress up in horrifying costumes and show off just how scary they can look?

According to Northwestern Medicine, there is a hormonal response to fear, in which the body releases cortisol and adrenaline. Blood flow changes and heart rate quickens. The body prepares for its fight or flight response. However, when intentional fear is caused, the body releases dopamine. Dopamine is the endorphin released that brings pleasure to the brain. Knowing that something, such as a haunted house, is not real sends the body into a state of peace after the first initial shock, then once it gets scared again, the cycle continues. The body wears itself out after this, making adrenaline shock the system to keep the body awake and alert. The same feeling occurs after one watches a movie with jump-scares or one with graphic images.

As far as roller-coasters are concerned, the body feels as though it is being threatened, in an attempt to save itself, the nervous system shocks the body with adrenaline. Then, once the ride ends the brain is overcome with a feeling of relief. The two opposite emotions send the brain into an overly happy state that is driven by dopamine.

It is fun to be scared because the body recognizes the difference between life-threatening danger and intentional scary experiences.