The Science Behind Why We Love Getting Scared

The Science Behind Why We Love Getting Scared

With Halloween approaching, I have been wondering: Why do we love "scary" things?

Halloween is swiftly approaching, and that means a growing number of scary images, haunted houses, and multitudes of scary movies. Many of us wait all year for the scariest of them all, but it's absolutely baffling to see the growing numbers that flock to these attractions yearly. As a culture, why do we love and crave these panicking situations so much?

When we get the living daylights scared out of us, our hearts beat a little faster, our breaths get short, our stomachs drop out of our butts, and our body temperature rises. According to The Atlantic in an interview with sociologist Dr. Margee Kerr, "new research from David Zald shows that people differ in their chemical response to thrilling situations. One of the main hormones released during scary and thrilling activities is dopamine, and it turns out some individuals may get more of a kick from this dopamine response than others do. Basically, some people’s brains lack what Zald describes as “brakes” on the dopamine release and re-uptake in the brain. This means some people are going to really enjoy thrilling, scary, and risky situations while others, not so much." Science experts say it's not odd that people crave to see how far they can go to prove they can handle more anxiety than they thought -- as if college and life, in general, doesn't make us anxious enough.

In addition, hormone levels rise when a person is terror stricken. This can create the love component of our obsession with feeling scared, much like a first kiss can. The moment we get scared, we feel the "flight or fight" reaction that gives us an intense adrenaline rush, making us more emotional.

On a psychological level, we love the forbidden. Take Adam and Eve, for example, they went for that particular apple because they weren't supposed to. Or consider an adolescent girl going for the "bad boy" because it's exactly who she shouldn't be dating. Horror movies, haunted houses, and scary decor allow us to enjoy this feeling but technically still stay safe. This attracts people because it differs from the everyday routine, and creates a thrill factor.

While these attractions give us anxiety, the release of fear at the end is known to lower anxiety levels as well. Go figure.

Finally, spooky stories help us form a strong emotional connection. We, as humans, often question the unknown, and the debate on the existence of paranormal activity is a hot topic. These deep and disprovable topics allow for the brain to contemplate what is beyond 2 inches in front of us as we grow intellectually in our own views. In addition, The Atlantic also backs this by stating that "One of the reasons people love Halloween is because it produces strong emotional responses, and those responses work to build stronger relationships and memories. When we’re happy, or afraid, we’re releasing powerful hormones, like oxcytocin, that are working to make these moments stick in our brain." Overall the emotional connection tells the mind to find relief in the scary moments and crave to relive those connecting moments.

Overall, having attended a haunted house less than 24 hours ago, I feel more relaxed and had a lot of fun. At the time, my heart rate rose, my breath shortened, and my anxiety levels were through the roof, but afterward, I was laughing and feeling happier than ever. I was significantly more relaxed than beforehand.

These components explain why society loves to feel afraid and ultimately clarify why I waited three hours outside to go through a 15-minute attraction.

Personal pleasure can vary, but these scary temptations aren't going anywhere. So pack an extra pair of underwear, bring a friend, and test your limits. You'll feel good after you do.

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5 Perks Of Having A Long-Distance Best Friend

The best kind of long-distance relationship.

Sometimes, people get annoyed when girls refer to multiple people as their "best friend," but they don't understand. We have different types of best friends. There's the going out together best friend, the see each other everyday best friend and the constant, low maintenance best friend.

While I'm lucky enough to have two out of the three at the same school as me, my "low maintenance" best friend goes to college six hours from Baton Rouge.

This type of friend is special because no matter how long you go without talking or seeing each other, you're always insanely close. Even though I miss her daily, having a long-distance best friend has its perks. Here are just a few of them...

1. Getting to see each other is a special event.

Sometimes when you see someone all the time, you take that person and their friendship for granted. When you don't get to see one of your favorite people very often, the times when you're together are truly appreciated.

2. You always have someone to give unbiased advice.

This person knows you best, but they probably don't know the people you're telling them about, so they can give you better advice than anyone else.

3. You always have someone to text and FaceTime.

While there may be hundreds of miles between you, they're also just a phone call away. You know they'll always be there for you even when they can't physically be there.

4. You can plan fun trips to visit each other.

When you can visit each other, you get to meet the people you've heard so much about and experience all the places they love. You get to have your own college experience and, sometimes, theirs, too.

5. You know they will always be a part of your life.

If you can survive going to school in different states, you've both proven that your friendship will last forever. You both care enough to make time for the other in the midst of exams, social events, and homework.

The long-distance best friend is a forever friend. While I wish I could see mine more, I wouldn't trade her for anything.

Cover Image Credit: Just For Laughs-Chicago

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To The Stressed Out College Student, Be Optimistic For Spring Quarter

I am looking forward to a productive spring quarter.


As a strenuous ten weeks of winter quarter is finally coming to a close, there is no better feeling than to be rewarded with a week of spring break. For most colleges and universities, this period of time is one of excitement and relief, as students approach a summer vacation that begins in May. Yet, for students with schedules revolving around the lovable (and often hatable) quarter system, it feels as though summer is far from our reach.

On a personal note, my previous ten weeks of classes have been bearable at best. I can proudly say that I have been counting down the days until spring break since our winter quarter began in January, though now that the week is finally approaching, I am reminded by the fact that I have yet another ten weeks of school in the near future. Interestingly enough, I have not started the countdown to June 18th quite yet. Instead, I am looking forward to a productive spring quarter that will leave me feeling energized and accomplished as I enter into a fresh summer.

I believe that the spring quarter withholds a sense of refreshment and newfound energy in comparison to that of fall and winter. Though students on the quarter system will end classes later than others, there is something to be said for spending days on campus when the warm weather finally breaks. Time seems to pass faster than it did in the dark and ominous weeks of winter quarter, and everyone seems to have a more positive attitude - as we can all see that vacation is approaching.

To the stressed out college student, be optimistic for spring quarter. Though tests and finals will still be ever-present, the completion of another ten weeks of classes is excellent motivation to achieve success and reward yourself within the coming months.

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