We all love a good scare from time to time. That spine-chilling horror flick or that toe-curling scary story makes our hormones rush. As it was Halloween few days back, it’s the perfect time to discuss the benefits of being scared.
Teaching Appropriate Response
In an interview with The Los Angeles Times, Michael Fanselow, a behavioral neuroscientist at UCLA, says that horror movies, despite being unrealistic, teach us to have proper responses to actual threats, especially when we’re young. "The brain changes physically when we learn, and young adulthood is when the parts of our brain that provoke and control our fears need experiences in order to learn and come into balance," Fanselow says.
Fear makes releases healthy chemical substances in the brain that excite the mood and generates feelings of or great excitement. According to Dr. Margee Kerr, a sociologist who studies fear, this “powerful chemical punch” includes endorphins and dopamine—a natural compound in the body that creates feelings of happiness.
When we’re scared, our body also produces a chemical called oxytocin. This hormone aids people in bonding with one another. The shared experience of fear can make people feel closer. No wonder we love to watch horror movies with our near and dear ones.
Being scared can help a person manage stressful situations, according to some evidence. Things, like giving a presentation in front of the class or performing on stage, can make us afraid and nervous. But these experiences help form a sort of endurance to fear that makes us more confident. As we become more and more accustomed to fearful situations, we are able to handle it better.
Maintaining the Balance
Although some amount of scare is healthy, maintaining a balance is important. Too much fear can create stress and trauma. What is fun for someone maybe too horrifying for someone else. Furthermore, children under the age of seven can’t separate reality from fantasy, so seeing something frightening can have lasting negative effects.
There you have it. A reason to watch more horror movies. Don’t be a scaredy-cat, have fun terrifying others and being terrified. Happy Halloween!