Halloween thrills and chills: Why people love the fear

Do you like being scared? Take our poll

Those thrills and chills that come with the Halloween season are disliked by some, but really loved by others. Here's why that fear factor is so appealing to some.

Certainly, lots of people enjoy being scared, and lots of people don’t -- but have you ever wondered why?

With Halloween season upon us, we decided to dig a little deeper on what makes that fear factor so appealing to some, but not to others.

Everyone has their own tolerance level for risk. The thrills of watching scary movies or going to haunted houses can be exciting for many.

“In a moment when we’re scared or surprised, like we’re in a corn maze and somebody pops out out of no where, in that moment we have the fight-or-flight response; we’re totally in the moment, we feel a dopamine spike, we feel the adrenaline coming on,” said Dr. Simran Chawa, an outpatient psychiatrist with Henry Ford Health.

On the flip side, for some people, watching scary movies or getting scared at haunted attractions can trigger negative emotions.

“A lot of times, people associate that fight-or-flight response with past experiences that were uncomfortable, or it could just be something that’s associated with bad memories,” Dr. Chawa said.

For those who enjoy the thrills and chills, it can be a positive release and boost your mood. It can also be a bonding experience for a group entering a scary situation and sticking together no matter what.

“Those experiences from a mental health perspective are definitely beneficial -- as long as we’re drawing the line to where it doesn’t become a trauma for us,” Chawa said.

Experts say to proceed with caution during the Halloween season, as some people may not respond well to getting spooked.

“We would also want to be careful with scaring someone who we don’t know ... we don’t know what past experiences they’ve been through,” Chawa said. “It’s all for fun, but we should definitely respect the boundaries that people set, and what they’re comfortable with.”

Do you enjoy being scared? Take the poll below and let us know!


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About the Author:

Dr. McGeorge can be seen on Local 4 News helping Metro Detroiters with health concerns when he isn't helping save lives in the emergency room at Henry Ford Hospital.