I major in Biological Psychology and study different aspects of the brain and why it does what it does. I have looked up topics such as dreams and their meanings to why we feel inadequate even when we specialize in something. These are all fascinating topics that I have explored but there is one thing that I have never looked up-
I have looked into fear as an emotion and the physiological effects that take place in response to fear. In most cases, people respond to fear by increased heart rate, sweating, or body temperature drop. While this is a general understanding of fear, a question that has always bugged me since my days in elementary school:
Why do people like horror movies? I came up with my own theory, but compared to the PhDs that have already studied this topic, I might as well scratch mine. There are many theories about fear, from people experiencing pride after “surviving” a movie or a form of release for whatever they’re holding inside.
I’ve always believed that children and teens like scary movies simply because they were not supposed to watch them in the first place. After a decade and a half of asking my friends about what it is about horror movies that are compelling, I usually end up with a shrug.
I believe that the rush of getting into an R-rated movie underage is more powerful than the movie itself. What’s intriguing, for example, is that my underage sister sees R-rated movies with her friends with consent from adults who buy the tickets for them. Strange, right? A group of concerned parents are responsible for movie ratings, but a parent goes out and buys four movie tickets for children to watch a horror movie.
Here’s another question: Why don’t I watch horror movies?
The answer is simple: I do not like being scared. I do not like the feeling of bathing in fear for to two hours. That does not seem like an ideal way to spend my time. I also believe that I have grown up with a “out-of-sight-out-of-mind” attitude. Watching a scary movie in the fifth grade was not only something that I did not want to do, but it was against the “rules” since I was not old enough to watch the movie. Those reasons eventually fostered into a dislike for horror movies altogether. Also, I hate gore and that is basically what some of these “horror” movies really capitalize on. But the worst part would probably be specific scenes getting stuck in my head on repeat, creeping into my dreams.
No thank you.
To be short: I hate fear. I am afraid of fear. The words “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself” are the truest words that I have ever heard. I fear everything already, so why pay to get scared? But, again, that is a discussion for another time. Stay scared, my friends.
Noah Burton is a second-year biological psychology major at University of California - Los Angeles. He enjoys exploring topics on mental health and mental illness. Noah plans on being on going into pharmaceutical research after graduating from pharmacy school.