I think it’s safe to say that everyone is afraid of something. For me, one of my biggest fears is just five words from my daughter “Dad, this is my boyfriend.”
She’s only nine, so I think I’m okay…for now!
Our fears can be confusing, upsetting and are personal to us. They can be minor and playful or become serious and possibly debilitating phobias.
Fear is also a funny thing, because for some reason…we LOVE it! Think about it, there’s a bit of a rush when someone scares you or when you scare them. Even as babies we loved being scared. Remember Peek-A-Boo? The whole idea is to make the baby jump when you pop out from behind your hands, but the baby (almost) always starts laughing right after they get scared and NEED you to do it again!
Horror movies are a multi-billion dollar industry and as Halloween approaches, there are more places you can go to get the @%^& scared out of you…and you pay them for this!
So what’s the reason that we love getting scared?
It really comes down to three areas: environment, personality and chemicals in our bodies.
First of all, we don’t love all fear, only controlled fear. According to Steve Joordens, a psychology professor at the University of Toronto Scarborough, none of us want to feel real fear in a real-life situation that we have no control over. The kind of scare we do like is when we’re experiencing a controlled sense of fear where we know our lives are not in danger. “The flirtation with fear is more when you can kind of put yourself in a situation where you get a version of those things happening but you’re always aware of the fact that there’s something – some sort of wall between you and the actual life or death situation,” Joordens says. “So what makes these things fun is that when something scary finally happens, anybody who has that built-up tension tends to release it through laughter or screaming, but it’s ultimately safe and that’s what allows it to be fun.”
It also comes down to personality, that’s why some people LOVE horror movies and some people HATE them. According to 2015 study out of Indiana University, researchers found that when people expose themselves to scary images, they do so because they tend to like putting themselves in the scenarios they’re watching and enjoy the feeling of surviving the fake experiences.
Finally, chemicals in the brain, specifically like dopamine are another reason why we love getting scared. When you think of dopamine, you might think of a positive emotional release, but a 2008 study by the University of Michigan also found that it is linked to emotions like fear and dread.
Psychiatrist David Zald told Business Insider that people who tend to like scary things also have a difficult time regulating their brains’ dopamine release. So in a sense, their brains tend to soak up dopamine for a longer period of time, meaning they tend to get more out of the experience because they end up with higher levels of the chemical.
With Halloween only a few weeks away, there’s no doubt that our fears will be put to the test…like the fear of getting caught eating the kids candy!