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Why We Enjoy Being Scared

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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – They pop up every fall: dozens of haunted houses, horror movies and Halloween traditions. Some are cute, others terrifying, but why do we seem to enjoy being scared?

“We have moments when we forget that they’re hypothetical, followed by moments when we realize they’re only hypothetical that come with a relief,” said University of Minnesota assistant professor of psychology Dr. Shmuel Lissek.

Several things happen to our bodies when we’re scared, creating a sense of rush.

NewsRadio 830 WCCO’s Samantha Smith Reports

“You end up having much more attention, the blood is flowing faster, the breathing is faster. And somebody might find that arousal enjoyable,” Lissek said.

But he doesn’t think these fake scares impact how we react in real life.

“I don’t think they do desensitize us in terms of our reactions to real horrors,” he said. “I think we would still respond with the same intensity of fear and upset when confronted in real life.”

So whether you’re more of a scaredy cat who would rather stick to “It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown” or an enthusiast who lined up for the midnight showing of the latest “Paranormal Activity”, Halloween continues to be a holiday that is enjoyed by people of all ages and fear levels.

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