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The Psychology of Halloween: 3 Reasons We Crave the Scare

Power

The very idea of "tricking" has the implicit idea of getting one over on another and therefore being triumphant.

Our hearts race, we sweat, and blood rushes to our faces in anticipation. The same happens to the person on the other side of the trick.

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The Psychology of Halloween: 3 Reasons We Crave the Scare

The Psychology of Halloween: 3 Reasons We Crave the Scare

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/halloween-fright-night-3-_b_8412574

huffpost.com

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Key Ideas

Power

The very idea of "tricking" has the implicit idea of getting one over on another and therefore being triumphant.

Our hearts race, we sweat, and blood rushes to our faces in anticipation. The same happens to the person on the other side of the trick.

We love to expect the unexpected

We crave the adrenalin and excitement that goes along with being scared and in scaring.

Horror movies and hide-and-seek have a similar sensorial experience.

Matching the experience we feel inside

Halloween is an opportunity to align ourselves from the inside out with our own psychological feeling.

It makes us feel completely alive in a split second -- like a wake-up call.

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The 'dark factor'

A love of horror movies is associated with an underlying dimension of entertainment preferences, dubbed "the dark factor".

Those with dark tastes value intensity, edginess and rebellion. Thei...

The pleasure paradox

Some derive enjoyment from negative emotional states, as when enjoying a "good cry", for instance.

A study found that people who liked sad films enjoyed a scene relative to how much sadness it elicited. The stronger the sadness, the higher the enjoyment.

Trick or treat

Halloween seems to bring out excesses in costumed children and adults.

Several studies revealed that costumed children who were anonymous — by wearing masks for instance — were more likely to take extra candies. In adults, costumed Halloween celebrators tend to have higher blood alcohol readings than people in plain clothes.

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.

The Horror Movie

Horror is a genre that has a reputation of being a low, somewhat trashy, titillating genre that appeals to our basest instincts. 
"Its also a wonderful, popular art form through which...

For a work to be classified as horror...

... it has to have a monster, which has to be threatening in some way. The monster is often otherworldly or violates the laws of nature, as in Alien or Jaws—but some argue that a human character can be a monster, as in Psycho, Silence of the Lambs, and Halloween.

The monster generally is otherworldly or violates the laws of nature and is designed to elicit disgust as an emotion.

"The beast within"

This is the most popular theory explaining the genre’s popularity and it argues that an unconscious, repressed part of every human is actually savage; that the veneer of civility is very thin, and beneath that is essentially a monster.

Although we consciously disapprove of what the monster is doing, deep down part of us enjoys seeing the murder and mayhem the monster unleashes—because if we could, we would do that.

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