Why do people like horror movies? Here is what the experts say
This adrenaline rush of fear is only a small part of the horror pull.
This is the latest article in the Health column, but why? Here, experts decipher the psychological reasons behind the strangest mysteries of human behavior.
Horror movies are scary. They are gross. They make you think about death and fear for your life. And yet, for many of us, they are a blast and the best way to spend a night, especially in October, when ghosts, anger and macabre rule the month.
Being scared can bring you a thrilling rush
Although horror movies are fake, watching them can trigger a very real fight or fly reaction, some experts say. "The brain does not always distinguish between fantasy and reality in a completely effective way," says Krista Jordan, PhD, a clinical psychologist based in Austin, Texas.
You are terrified, but you are also safe
You can get an adrenaline rush from watching a horror movie, but you are not actually in any danger when you watch. “You’re looking at scary things in a controlled environment and I think that’s something we all want,” says Margot Levin, PhD, a New York City-based clinical psychologist.
It helps you prepare for the worst
Horror movies give you a brief overview of how life-threatening situations can unfold, which can make you feel more prepared for the current danger. "It's about trying to learn to predict the world around you," says Coltan Scrivner, a PhD candidate in the Department of Comparative Human Development at the University of Chicago.
Horror teaches you to cope
Experts say that watching horror movies can help you practice coping strategies. “I think people who watch a lot of them are learning how to deal with insecurity and suspense and anxiety,” Scrivner says.