Halloween- a time for horror movies and dopamine…

Halloween is here! In Sweden it’s a time for parties, trick or treating or dressing up as a scary or sexy version of absolutely anything. However, it is also an excellent time to watch horror movies, which generally people  have different feelings about. Here are some of the thoughts from the students at Jönköping University.

Maja Davidsson is a big fan of horror movies. She likes it for the kick and the adrenaline! 

“It’s the best when you have finished the movie and you´re still scared,” Maja says. 

Filip, another student at Jönköping university appreciates the structure of horror movies and says that they´re generally very good, however he would not watch it alone. 

“I think it’s fun to be scared together, and you can laugh about it. I just like the reactions and tension it is in the room”

Someone who doesn’t appreciate horror movies is Marika. In her life she has watched half of two scary movies. She has an excellent memory so when seeing a scary image she´ll remember it for a very long time, which is not the best quality when walking home late at night. 

When asked why she thinks people actually enjoy horror movies, she thinks it’s a controlled kind of fear. Something she can relate to because she is scared of heights but can still enjoy climbing because it’s in a safe context. 

“There probably is a middleground where you feel happy and scared at the same time, but when I watch scary movies it’s just pure panic”

Let’s look further into why people actually enjoy horror movies….

According to horror scientist Anna Höglund, scary movies are often appreciated because they make us forget our daily problems and sort of scare off the regular angst and fear in our daily lives. What is also commonly appreciated in horror movies is that they often raise problems in society. An  example of this is the movie The Platform. A social science fiction- horror movie that takes place in a vertical prison where a platform full of food is lowered from top to bottom, leaving the people on the lowest platforms to fight for the leftovers. It’s basically a scary way of displaying capitalism and the class system. The liking for scary movies can also be explained by what happens in our body when we get scared.

According to Hjärnfonden, fear is a natural reaction to a threat or danger. Just like pain it functions as a survival mechanism. When scared your pupils get bigger, your palms sweat and the dopamine and adrenaline kicks in. For some people it seems like these physical reactions can be interpreted as exhilarating if it is in a safe setting. According to a study at Vanderbilt University in the US, people who like to get scared by scary movies seem to have a more effective dopamine system and reward centre. 

Another study from Journal Communication Study shows that people who enjoy horror movies also tend to enjoy experiencing intense emotions. Therefore jump scares in movies can be a positive experience because it stimulates that need. If you do not have the same want for strong emotions then horror movies might not be that interesting to you. 

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