Why Do We Love A Good Scare?

Do you love roller coasters, horror movies, and haunted houses? You’ve got a lot of company. The fact is, most people like a good scare. At least, when they know – deep down – that they’re not in any real danger.

Behavioral scientist Dr. David Rudd says that most adults and teens can realistically gauge how dangerous something is, whether it’s a roller coaster, or a zombie in a haunted house. They understand they might have nightmares afterward, but they still feel relatively safe. So, instead of experiencing real fear, they feel excitement instead. That’s also one reason people scream when they’re make-believe scared by a movie, or a Halloween attraction, and then laugh immediately afterward. Because the enjoyment is bubbling right below the surface.

But not everybody enjoys being scared. Some adults and most young children can’t tell whether something is scary-fun, or genuinely scary. It’s because they have less experience gauging how dangerous things are, whether it’s a monster in a movie, or a skeleton on someone’s lawn that screams as they walk by. So, they’re more likely to feel like they’re in real danger.

That’s why kids get scared so much more easily than adults. And why they may not find the scarier-parts of Halloween enjoyable at all.