Goulding Creations

Why We Love Horror.

May 18, 2019

Why do some people love getting scared? How does the horror genre exist across so many different forms of media? Let’s take a quick pass at the science of fear!

Many of us are familiar with “fight or flight”. You know that feeling you get when the clown comes on screen in the movie and you try to see how quickly a human can become one with a chair or you turn to find somebody right beside you that wasn’t there before. Or someone on a video you are watching screams like an idiot out of nowhere. This fear response is deeply ingrained in all animals. Your body heightens all of the senses needed to successfully escape or knock a ghoul out.

Scientists have connected the part of your brain called the hypothalamus to this response. It’s the part that fires off the fight or flight based on all of the information gathered by several other sections of the brain. Adrenaline gets your heart pumping and your lungs open so you can get plenty of air to your tightening muscles that are ready to do their best usain bolt impression at a moment’s notice.

Other parts of your brain play a part in fear response as well, such as the thalamus and sensory cortex both of which use available information to determine if there is a known or perceived threat to get this all started.

Though there are people that are tougher than others, not me, but people like that exist I guess. Even these people have the fight or flight response. They just don’t have spiders registered as the same threat level as others. This comes from exposure and experience. This is in part why good games and movies will try to scare the pants off you in variety of ways.

I wonder if that’s a conspiracy with the pants Industry…

People enjoy getting scared for the same reason people enjoy sports and other exciting entertainment, the adrenaline rush. That heightened sense is a feeling you get on rollercoaster rides and even surviving a haunted house. People get addicted and become thrill seekers to continue to get that feeling. Along with the adrenaline required to react quickly, the brain also puts out that sweet brain candy called dopamine. This is likely intended to get your attention since dopamine is usually connected to a reward of sorts. That is what you get addicted to, you thrill seeker you.

Video games have come a long way in this genre lately and have even started to make the leap to VR. If previous games like Outlast or dead space got your blood pumping, then VR horror is going to be a trip. Resident evil 7 is bringing it to the PlayStation. Games already get some people deeply connected to the action on the screen. Could you handle an experience like this?

What are your thoughts on VR? Check out this and find out what’s in Mike’s head next week!

Sources:

http://ns.umich.edu/new/releases/6634-thin-line-between-desire-and-dread-dopamine-controls-both
http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2013/10/why-do-some-brains-enjoy-fear/280938/
http://www.vanderbilt.edu/psychological_sciences/bio/david-zald


Mike Goulding © 2020