Why do we like horror?

Well, Halloween has come and gone and so the scary stuff is pretty much at ease.  But the more I think about it, being scared makes no sense.  Think about it.  I wrote a previous blog about evolution and emotions.  I was thinking of fear.  Why do we feel fear?  Why does that make evolutionary sense?  I think the easy answer is because fear gives us a clue that we should avoid something because it’s a threat to our lives.  People avoid scary things because it could be a threat to their own existence.  For example, many people are afraid of heights.  This is because they view heights as something that could potentially end their lives.  Many people are afraid of public speaking.  This is because it not only forces one to do something, but it also forces one to be something that makes them uncomfortable.  So being scared is something to avoid.  Yet. . .

Halloween is all about being scared.  Not only to we look forward to this holiday, but we can’t wait to go see the latest Saw movie or go through some haunted house during Halloween.  This isn’t just around October, but throughout the year, we seem to love horror movies and we love being scared.  So why is that?  Evolution tells us that being scared is something we try to avoid.  Yet, we sometimes seek out horror in order to be scared.

This problem has been around since Aristotle.  I have a few suggestions but I wanted to see what everyone else thought.

About shaunmiller

I have just completed a visiting position as an assistant professor at Dalhousie University. My ideas are not associated with my employer; they are expressions of my own thoughts and ideas. Some of them are just musings while others could be serious discussions that could turn into a bigger project. Besides philosophy, I enjoy martial arts (Kuk Sool Won), playing my violin, enjoying coffee around town, and experimenting with new food.
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2 Responses to Why do we like horror?

  1. thekillerj says:

    Fear gives us a cool feeling jolt, right? Well, Halloween affords us the opportunity to feel fear without any real consequence. If there were ACTUAL working chainsaws wielded by psychopaths in the haunted houses, I don’t think they’d get much business.
    It’s for the adrenaline without consequence.

    • shaunmiller says:

      I can see that. But then why not go workout? Why not go running? Why not go skydiving? Why not go on a roller-coaster? I guess the short answer is it’s either too expensive or too time-consuming. Kinda odd how fear is the lazy man’s way of getting the adrenaline rush.

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