There are two types of people in the world: First, there are people like me, who could not even handle watching one episode of American Horror Story alone. People who watched a slightly spooky documentary once and can never go into their attic at night again. (You know, normal people).
Then, there are people who love horror. They’re enthralled with the goosebumps and the nervous excitement of all things creepy. My childhood best friend is one of these people. She once made me watch Silence of the Lambs six (SIX!) times in one month.
I left that experience wondering one thing: What the hell is wrong with these people!?
Recently, I turned to science to try to understand why on earth some people find pleasure in watching horror films.
I found that horror movies trigger the fight or flight response in your brain. Though you know that a movie is fictional, your brain still delivers adrenaline to your body as if you are in real danger according to Inverse. For some people, this is a super fun time.
Margee Kerr, a sociologist who studies fear, told the Huffington Post that horror movies make some people “feel really alive and grounded in their bodies, almost like how you feel after a really intense yoga class.”
Patrick Scully, a second year master’s student at Northwestern watches horror films for this reason. “I get scared pretty easily and I can’t sleep for a while, I do like the adrenaline rush of watching scary movies,” Scully said.
Kerr also said that those with an aversion to horror movies may dislike them because they feel as though they are losing control of their bodies as a result of the stress reaction, and that the feeling is similar to having a panic attack.
Psychologists are not certain why people react in different ways, but they have a few theories. Those who hate horror movies tend to be highly empathic and more sensitive than the average person, according to the Huffington Post. Those who love them tend to identify and empathize with either the victim or the villian and have high levels of “sensation seeking,” which is the tendency to “pursue sensory pleasure and excitement.” Those who identify with the villain tend to prefer movies with gore to thrillers and have low empathy according to Psychology Today.
“I like watching with friends, and the jump scares are fun,” Weinberg sophomore Sarita Jarrett said. She said that even though she does not to like being scared in the moment, afterwards the rush makes it all worth it.
Watching horror movies with someone you associate with positive feelings can be a good bonding experience, according to Kerr.
So, if you're into it, cuddle up with someone cute and watch a horror movie this spooky season. I, however, will not be participating.