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Halloween, Horror and Hormones : Why Being Scared is Good For You

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October 28th, 2022

By Nikki Harper

Staff Writer for Wake Up World

It’s nearly Halloween – the perfect time of year for ghost stories, ghouls, monsters and things which go bump in the night. It’s not just for kids, either; there are plenty of adults who enjoy some serious spine-tingling and who chill out by seeking out the chill factor.

This year, an estimated 69% of Americans will participate in Halloween in one way or another – and Halloween spending for 2022 is expected to hit an eye-watering $10.6 billion [1]. Indeed, year round, scaring people is big business. The scare and haunt industry, incorporating scare attractions and the like, brings in some $7.5 billion annually in the US [2]. Haunted house ticket sales are rising fast and people are spending more than ever before on these scary venues [3]. Paranormal tourism is also on the rise [4], and anecdotal evidence suggests a big increase in the number of people involved in paranormal groups and investigations. Not only are we happy to be scared, we’re happy to spend a lot of money being scared. But why?

Why Do We Seek Out Frightening Experiences?

This is a question which has intrigued philosophers through the ages. The paradox of painful art, sometimes also called the paradox of tragedy, questions why rational humans seek out painful (in this case scary) experiences via books, movies, attractions or other forms of art, when in real life we would all naturally do everything possible to avoid situations which scare us [5].

There are a couple of good theories as to what’s going on here.

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