Why some people like the fright

In Health & Lifestyles on November 5, 2010 at 6:49 pm

By: Lauren Harper

Some people try to stay away from scary things, but there are others who love to be scared. Photo courtesy of Google images

Many people around the world recently celebrated Halloween and with that came trips to haunted houses, Scarowinds visits, scary movies, and trick-or-treating. While some people definitely have greater tolerances than others when it comes to how much “scary” they can take, there are others that enjoy or even love to be scared silly. There are a variety of reasons for why this is, and it doesn’t always have to do with age or physical characteristics alone.

            People that are more of thrill-seekers than others and seem to like the scary stuff are referred to as those with a “Type T” personality. Type T’s are well-known as people who are greater risk takers, whether that’s jumping out of a plane or seeing the scariest movie in theaters. They also like receiving a lot of sensory information and get a high from situations in which they don’t know what will be the result. Frank Farley, a psychologist at Temple University, explains that for Type T’s “there’s almost nothing else… that can match it in terms of the incredible sensory experience that the body is put through.”

            It has also been theorized that Type T personalities could have something to do with genetics. The gene D4 dopamine receptor exon III has been found to be linked to exciting or risky ventures, so those with a Type T personality could have more of this gene than others. Mutations on this gene could also define how much or how little a person enjoys being scared. Other theories on the psychological side conjecture that people may not enjoy the actual being frightened part, but rather the adrenaline rush that they receive after that makes it all worth it. Another theory is that people who enjoy scary movies and things like bungee jumping are confident in enduring these experiences because they know that the people in the movie are actors, and that the bungee cord or parachute they use when jumping off of something will support them when they take the jump. Also, for some, the rewarding feeling of “surviving” the scary experience satisfies them so much that they want to do more things to face their fears.

            When it comes to children and the trick-or-treating adventures they took part in this past Halloween, some also believe that activities like these allow for children to release pent up emotion and live outside of the norm, at least for a few hours. “Some people have a need to expose themselves to sensations that are different from the routine. While experiencing a frightening movie may have some negatives, individuals often derive gratification because the experience is different,” Farley explained. For many of those with Type T personalities, Halloween was a welcome holiday and it surely will not be the last scary or risky venture they take part in this year.


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