Psychology of Being Scared

Everyone has that one friend who cries the whole way through haunted houses and one friend who can’t stop laughing afterward. One psychology professor explains why people have such different reactions to these Halloween traditions.

During the month of October, thrill seekers all over line up for haunted houses and horror movies, hoping to be scared.

Fear, an emotion that is often thought of as a negative response, is suddenly something people desire around Halloween time.

Paul Biner, a psychology professor who teaches a class on emotion and motivation, explains why so many people enjoy feeling fear.

“Not everyone is afraid of haunted houses,” Biner said. “There’s a type of personality.”

People that have this personality trait are called sensation seekers, he said.

These sensations seekers have what Biner calls a low base rate, meaning they need more arousal to be stimulated. They enjoy activities like haunted houses, paragliding and bungee jumping. Biner said that while his family enjoys thrills, he does not.

“I’ve got a really high arousal rate and I’m not a sensation seeker at all,” he said. “I’ve been on roller coasters and I thought I was going to die. That feeling was not good, so I stay away from haunted houses [and] roller coasters.”

To get the rest of the ins-and-outs of what get's under your skin, read the full article on


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