The Social Benefits of Fear
The other week I could not help becoming hooked on a TV series my partner watches about a horrific vampire apocalypse. Later that night, I ended up having a vivid nightmare about the end of the world and being attacked by zombie-like vampires! I usually stray away from watching horror shows, but last week I watched it’s season finale with my partner despite the previous fear I experienced. My partner is always surprised when I choose to watch one of these horror thrillers with him and, intriguingly, so am I.
Turns out there is a sociologist, Margee Kerr, that studies fear. Through researching why some people seek fear, she has found there can be benefits from a good scare, which keep some coming back for more. Among these benefits, fear helps build confidence and can solidify friendships and other social relationships.
She advises to seek fear in a controlled situation in which you know you are safe in order to enjoy the thrill of your body’s reaction and at the end feel pumped that you made it through. This can increase self esteem and sense of accomplishment. In an interview Kerr states “even though you knew you were never really in danger, you still feel a sense of euphoria after making it through a frightening event.”
Wonder how our mind/body can feel good after feeling scared to death? When we are scared we release the bonding chemical called oxytocin (the same hormones released after sexual intercourse and the one mothers’ produce during childbirth). This is why you see groups of people smiling and laughing after a thrill ride or exiting a haunted house. Fear can build stronger connections with our relationships. Kerr adds, “Friends who are scared together, stay together.” The same goes for romantic relationships who are looking to broaden their interaction and strengthen their bond.
- Rent a scary/thriller movie for a date and snuggle close to your partner
- Sign up for a Ghost tour in your town
- Go to a theme park
- Stay in a haunted hotel
- Round up a group for Tough Mudder (https://toughmudder.com)
- Sky dive
- And if this is too much for some, you can look under a rock 😉
Remember, scares are not only for Halloween! Experience some thrills with your partner today!
Author: Arianna Skinner