Science Says This Is Why Some People Like To Be Scared

Everyone has different tastes in entertainment, but some people's tastes can be a bit confusing at first glance, an example being people who enjoy scary movies or haunted houses. You would think that people would seek to avoid being scared, not pay money for it, yet horror films make millions of dollars each year (per Box Office Mojo), roller coasters are Americans' favorite amusement park ride (per CBS), and Halloween is among Americans' favorite holidays (per The Harris Poll).

Some people assume that a person must have something wrong with them if they love visiting haunted houses and watching horror movies, but that is not necessarily the case.

"People think that if you're really into [scary things] then that's in line with your pathology, and I'm happy to report that it's not," sociologist Margee Kerr told Healthline. "The data that my colleagues have collected show that so many people enjoy horror and it doesn't mean that there's something wrong with them."

Why do some people enjoy being scared?

It may not seem natural to enjoy being scared, but it is important to note that there is a very big difference between a stranger breaking into your house (a scary experience which nobody enjoys) and watching a horror movie. The difference is that when you are watching a horror movie, you know that you are actually safe. In absence of any real danger, the flood of adrenaline can be enjoyable (per Health).

"If you're in a situation like a haunted house and something jumps out at you or you hear a scary noise, your body goes into a fight or flight mode, but your frontal lobe still knows you're safe and will calm you down, allowing the situation to be more pleasurable," psychiatrist Katherine Brownlowe told Healthline. "Your brain is at the edge of danger, but it knows it's not actually at risk."

According to PsychCentral, the boost of physiological arousal can also linger after the experience, enhancing any positive emotions if you're having fun with your friends. It may be for this reason that, according to Healthline, people often feel closer to their friends after they engage in a scary activity together.