Rapid breathing and a rush of adrenaline mixed with a sense of fear are some of the most common situations we go through while watching a horror movie. Despite this, many of us will look forward to a new horror film that will be watched intently until the last scene. What’s the secret?
Fear is a subjective phenomenon – what causes a feeling of fear in one person does not necessarily cause the same sensations in another. But there’s a good reason why we like to ‘torture’ ourselves, and science says watching horror movies is actually good for us.
Watching horror movies stimulates an instinctive, primordial instinct for survival also known as ‘fight or flight’ which emerges as a trigger in situations where we feel fear. If, for example, you imagine that you are in a haunted house, you will feel fear, but at the same time know that you are safe because it is not a real situation. But even though you will feel real fear, your body will not secrete the stress hormone, but the happiness hormone also known as dopamine.
Fear makes us feel alive and no one is immune to it. Stephen King, the author of cult horror novels, explains that there are three types of terror that the audience can endure: the one that will cause disgust in you, horror and simply put – pure terror. Depending on your personality, you will react differently to each of these types of terror. The best horror movies are the ones that unite all three types.
Scientists explain how short-term stress actually has a positive effect on our body and improves our immune system. Experts say that people who like to be scared generally respond better to life’s challenges than those who avoid fear. But how much fear you can accept – it’s up to you to decide. Either way, moderation is key.