3 Reasons Why Fear Can Be Fun

fearFear isn’t necessarily bad, it’s just misunderstood. 

In surveys, only 1 person in 10 says they really enjoy fear. Which made me wonder: if most of us don’t like it, why is it such a popular film and book genre? Why do we devote a day – or more importantly, a night – to fear?

Fear is novelty and thrill-seeking.

It’s an out-of-the-ordinary physiological arousal of the nervous system that we intentionally link to enjoyment. Fear can even be inspirational. People with more monotonous lives are chronically under-aroused. And the most likely to be fear fans! They thrive on the thrill because they need it for balance.

Fear is balance and control.

Fear can create a sense of balance. Horror fans know the rules: if you violate common sense or moral codes, you’re the first to die. It’s Victorian justice, but it’s balance. This is why All Hallows Eve is followed by All Saints Day.

Fear is precision fun.

People can experience two emotions at the same time. Fear fans are a little better than the rest. In the right combination, fear takes us right up to the brink of danger. Fear acknowledges our barbaric ancestry without requiring us to live like they did. (Let’s be honest, we all come from groups that engaged in some kind of atrocity.)

Long ago, life was full of fear. Sometimes things turned out okay. As the adrenaline rush faded, we got giddy and felt brave. We recognized life’s balance as we celebrated our survival.

It was a good feeling and we found ways to maintain it. This required control, or else things went badly. But confronting or provoking our own fear gave us a chance to enjoy a thrill on our own terms.

I have a hypothesis:

Introverts, being used to certain levels of control and balance from living in an Extraverted world, may naturally be more likely to be fans of fear and horror. That is, people who appreciate the feeling are in the minority – just 1 in 10, or 10 in 100. But I propose that of that 10 in 100, the majority are Introverts.

Comment to add your input and support or refute my hypothesis, or just think about it and whether it relates to people you know.  I know commenting takes time and most people just don’t want to. But do me a favor and Like or Share this post – otherwise I’ll send all the neighborhood kids to your door on Halloween, and you’ll run out of candy, and it’ll be really awkward.

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2 thoughts on “3 Reasons Why Fear Can Be Fun”

  1. Writer, you know I lean heavily toward introvert. It may well be that timidity that influences my commenting/not commenting. Your hypothesis seems valid, yet I feel no arousal as I type this. And, yeah, I DO like the graphics. Now I’m crawling back under my rock.

    1. I appreciate your comment. My alternate hypothesis is that it’s the Extraverts, since they tend to be emotionally energized by external stimuli. (Assuming Jung was right about all that stuff!) That would mean most Introverts would find fear emotionally exhausting and be quite happy without it. This may be the basis of my next research project!

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