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The student news site of Stockbridge High School


The student news site of Stockbridge High School


Horror in the head

The psychology behind why people enjoy horror
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With suspense that can tie your stomach in knots and scenes that make you want to crawl out of your own skin, everything that terrifies people also tends to be what entices them to horror. From slashers to psychological thrillers ‒ and everything in between ‒ the horror genre has something for just about everyone. But why are people drawn to horror; to the feeling of fear? What about horror is so appealing? 

For many, the fascination with horror relates to the adrenaline rush that comes from being scared. With horror movies, viewers are able to experience the high that comes from being spooked within a safe environment ‒ the comfort of their own home.

Having earned her Ph.D. in Educational and Clinical Psychology from Wayne State University, school psychologist Dr. Krisan Fedokovitz has extensively studied the effects of fear on the brain and why people are attracted to and repelled by horror.

I think the interesting thing is that [horror movies] seem to be sort of sensation seeking, like looking for that adrenaline rush,” Dr. Fedokovitz said. “You’re always at the edge of your seat, waiting for the next scary thing to happen, and I think there’s an attraction to that.” 

Much like other forms of entertainment, horror media allows the audience to connect with the characters, and oftentimes, people are drawn to the victim. The characters’ relatability makes it so that the audience can sympathize with the victims, and spectators are compelled to root for these characters with the hope of seeing the victims overcome the danger and difficulty of their situation.

Every October, Psychology and World History teacher Carter Mauter introduces a horror unit to his psychology students, where they explore the science behind horror.

“Some people like to watch scary movies to see people overcome difficult things,” Mauter said. “It does depend on the kind of horror. As I know for some people, being able to suspend disbelief is important. But I like watching horror movies because I enjoy seeing people overcome those difficult or scary situations. I also like the adrenaline boost and the feeling of being scared sometimes.”

Not only do people like horror for the adrenaline aspect and the relativity, but for the other elements it offers too: the suspense, paranoia and even motives, which all invite a new level of thinking from participants.

Junior Rayce Kilgore, an avid horror fanatic, is often intrigued by the motives of the killers in horror films and enjoys the intricate plotlines that different movies develop.

“I like it because with some movies, they delve deep into the motives and the twisted stories, and I just find that to be interesting,” Kilgore said, “because there are all these motives where you can kind of sympathize with [the killer], and then there’s just pure evil. It’s a very interesting concept to think about.”

For some people like junior Grace Lackey, however, the fear factor is reason enough to watch horror films and visit haunted houses, as it offers a new experience that invokes feelings that wouldn’t otherwise be exposed to in everyday life.

“I like being scared, personally,” Lackey said. “It’s a fun emotion to experience because you just get that little adrenaline rush and you don’t usually feel that way when you’re doing normal everyday things.”

With a variety of rationale behind people’s attraction to horror, there’s something for everyone that desires to immerse themselves into the world of suspense and thrill. What will be your next scare?

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Melanie Satowiak, Reporter
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