Why do we enjoy being scared?
There’s nothing about being scared that should attract us, and yet people constantly line up and pay for that exact feeling. Between horror films, roller coasters, skydiving and everything else that makes your heart beat that much faster, there’s a question that needs to be asked: why do we like to be scared?
You can Google the question and countless articles will come up outlining the psychology behind fear. The attraction to things like horror films and roller coasters lies in controlled fear.
People can feel the adrenaline rush of being frightened when watching a scary movie, but because it’s often from a safe environment—like on your couch hiding under a blanket or locked into a safety-tested coaster—there’s no actual threat. The addicting feeling of being scared and the pleasure relies on the individual and whether a person subconsciously knows they are safe.
Beyond the adrenaline rush, people are attracted to fear because emotionally intense situations are more memorable and can bring people together. Humans enjoy intense emotional experiences in groups and want to experience a sense of connectedness with others and to share intense emotions, even with strangers.
Scary stories have been told around the campfire for a long time, and that fear—instead of sending people running and screaming—often makes them huddle closer together, which is why fear-mongering is such an effective (and often ill-used) technique.
In marketing in PR, you are pushing for that memorable experience. One of the most effective means of doing this is experiential marketing, which is why the horror genre has been an especially fertile ground for memorable immersive marketing.
On paper, nothing about horror films should attract us, and yet it’s a billion-dollar industry because it creates an emotional experience.