Why We Like To Be Scared!



Photo courtesy of Pedro J Ferreira via Flickr

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Editor’s Note: This article was written by Dylan Broggio, LCSW, EWN therapist.

Happy Halloween!! … wait a second… why does it make us happy to be scared out of our gourd? As thousands flock this time of year to haunted houses to be chased by masked men with chain saws…many of us are left scratching our heads asking… um, WHY? What is it about us that we love to be scared?

There are a gazillion theories on this, however what they seem to agree on is that it taps into your bodies release of adrenalin!! We see or hear something scary, our brains go into hyper alert mode (aka the fight-or-flight response). We are intensely aware, and with that intense awareness comes that lovely chemical called adrenalin flooding into our veins, making us feel more alive!

Why do some people seek this out while others can’t handle it? At the biological level – we all have a baseline arousal (how jazzed up we are when we’re just hanging out). Higher baseline aroused people steer clear of this scary stuff and head for the hot apple cider and donuts :-)  Lower baseline aroused people are motivated by the thrill seeking and adrenalin. Note: I definitely fall in high baseline arousal category. Cider anyone?

Why do men tend to gravitate more often to scary stuff than women? Men tend to have lower baseline arousal and women have higher. Hence, men typically enjoy scary movies and such more. It also varies by age, the younger you are the lower your baseline arousal, therefore young men are the biggest audience.

All I know is that it’s not for me. I’ll be spending this evening with a cup of hot cider next to the fairies and infants with monkey suits on ;-)

Happy Halloween everyone!

~ Dylan Broggio, LSCW-R

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