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Catching fear in a bottle

https://bigthink.com/mind-brain/scare-science?rebelltitem=2#rebelltitem2

bigthink.com

Catching fear in a bottle
A new study comparing the reactions of haunted house visitors to their heart rates seeks recreational fear’s sweet spot.

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Why people enjoy being scared

Why people enjoy being scared

A recent study looked at why people enjoy a good fright and found that it creates a sort of euphoria that lowers stress levels.

There seems to be a sweet spot for enjoyment where the fright is not too scary nor too weak, but just enough to be enjoyable.

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Fear is enjoyed in just the right amount

Being scared is enjoyable when it represents just a quick minor physiological deviation from your normal state. When it goes on too long, it becomes disturbing.

It is similar factors that make interpersonal play enjoyable: just the right amount of uncertainty and surprise. Coincidentally, it is also the ingredients of a successful joke.

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Fear as a defense mechanism

Fear as a defense mechanism

Fear protects organisms against a perceived threat to their integrity or existence. Fear can be as simple as moving away from a negative stimulus, or as complex as existential anxi...

Getting a “rush” vs. feeling terrorized

The main factor in how we experience fear has to do with the context.

When the "thinking" part of the brain gives feedback to the "emotional" brain, and we know it isn't really a threat, we can quickly shift from fear to enjoyment or excitement, such as in a haunted house during Halloween season. However, if you were walking in a dark alley at night and a stranger started following you, both your emotional and thinking areas of the brain would agree that the situation is dangerous and that it's time to escape.

The fear reaction

The fear reaction starts in the brain's amygdala region and spreads through the body to prepare the body for the best defense or flight reaction. Fear also triggers the release of stress hormones and the sympathetic nervous system.

During a dangerous situation, the brain becomes hyperalert, pupils dilate, the bronchi dilate, breathing accelerates, heart rate and blood pressure rise, blood flow and a stream of glucose to the skeletal muscles increase, and organs not vital in survival slow down, such as the gastrointestinal system.

Feeling rewarded

According to a 2008 study, dopamine is responsible for feelings of accomplishment and rewards, but it's also been linked to averse emotions like fear and dread.

People who enjoy fearful o...

It can bring people together

Fear, rather than scattering people screaming into the night, might actually make them huddle closer together.

We build a special closeness with those we are with when we're in an excited or scared state.

The right kind of fear

The fun of Halloween is that you can experience the thrill of fear without any real threat.

It's all about triggering the fight-or-flight response to experience the flood of adrenaline, endorphins, and dopamine, but in a completely safe space.

Reasons for enjoying or hating scary movies

  • Sensation seeking individuals may enjoy scary movies because it will elevate the heart rate and make the body feel as though it needs to expend energy.
  • Highly sensitive peopl...