Why Humans Crave Fear


A'Viyon Robinson, Editor

When you think of the word fear, your mind is most likely filled with a host of frightening and unpleasant situations. Fear is generally regarded as a bad thing; it is our body’s response to uncertainty and the feeling of danger that may arise in any given instance. However, skydiving, haunted houses, roller coasters and bungee jumping are all amongst some of the most commonly participated in activities, despite their ability to spark fear in the hearts of many. So why is it that people go out of their way to seek out and engage in fear-inducing activities?

One answer may lie in our body’s sympathetic nervous system. When presented with a seemingly scary situation, a fight or flight response is typically enacted, allowing us to register whether we should remove ourselves from the situation or stick around and assess what’s going on. In those who enjoy fear, this response isn’t as easily alerted, and a thorough appreciation of said situation can be found.

A further breakdown of this can be seen in the study of the frontal lobe which is responsible for thinking and is where the fight or flight response takes place. Once your body realizes that no real danger is present, it relaxes, sometimes allowing for the release of dopamine. This causes your body to register the instance as one that will lead to feelings of happiness, thus providing an enjoyment of similar instances in the future.

Another reason why fear may be so thrilling to some is due to its potential to build bonds and bring people together. Very rarely will you see someone go to any escape room by themselves. And what’s a scary movie if you don’t go see it with your friends or a date? Experiencing fearful events with another person or a group of people often forms an unbreakable bond.

This can be seen in extremes as well, such as tragedies. Survivors of plane crashes or natural disasters generally report feeling undoubtedly connected to one another due to the shared traumas or near-death experiences that they all encountered. This connectedness applies to scary occurrences of all kinds, whether optional or accidental.

Regardless of if you’re a fear-fanatic or one who prefers to get their thrills elsewhere, it is hard to deny the claim that a good scare can bring on excitement amongst a brave few. The next time you’re faced with a frightful occurrence, try to remember how you feel after the fact. You may have more fun than you think.