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  • Somewhere right now, people are lining up to scare themselves,

  • maybe with a thrill ride or horror movie.

  • In fact, in October of 2015 alone,

  • about 28 million people visited a haunted house in the U.S.

  • But many consider this behavior perplexing,

  • asking the question,

  • "What could possibly be fun about being scared?"

  • Fear has a bad rap, but it's not all bad.

  • For starters, fear can actually feel pretty good.

  • When a threat triggers our fight or flight response,

  • our bodies prepare for danger

  • by releasing chemicals that change how our brains and bodies function.

  • This automatic response jumpstarts systems that can aid in survival.

  • They do this by making sure we have enough energy

  • and are protected from feeling pain,

  • while shutting down nonessential systems, like critical thought.

  • Feeling pain-free and energized,

  • while not getting caught up in worrisome thoughts that normally occupy our brains,

  • that all sounds great,

  • and it can be because this response is similar, though not exactly the same

  • to what we experience in positive, high-arousal states,

  • like excitement, happiness, and even during sex.

  • The difference lays in the context.

  • If we're in real danger, we're focused on survival, not fun.

  • But when we trigger this high arousal response in a safe place,

  • we can switch over to enjoying the natural high of being scared.

  • It's why people on roller coasters can go from screaming to laughing within moments.

  • Your body is already in a euphoric state.

  • You're just relabeling the experience.

  • And though the threat response is universal,

  • research shows differences between individuals

  • in how the chemicals associated with the threat response work.

  • This explains why some are more prone to thrill-seeking than others.

  • Other normal physical differences explain

  • why some may love the dizziness associated with a loop-de-loop,

  • while loathing the stomach-drop sensation of a steep roller coaster,

  • or why some squeal with delight inside a haunted house,

  • but retreat in terror if taken to an actual cemetery.

  • Fear brings more than just a fun, natural high.

  • Doing things that we're afraid of can give us a nice boost of self-esteem.

  • Like any personal challenge,

  • whether it's running a race or finishing a long book,

  • when we make it through to the end,

  • we feel a sense of accomplishment.

  • This is true even if we know we're not really in any danger.

  • Our thinking brains may know the zombies aren't real,

  • but our bodies tell us otherwise.

  • The fear feels real,

  • so when we make it through alive,

  • the satisfaction and sense of accomplishment also feel real.

  • This is a great evolutionary adaptation.

  • Those who had the right balance of bravery and wit

  • to know when to push through the fear and when to retreat

  • were rewarded with survival,

  • new food,

  • and new lands.

  • Finally, fear can bring people together.

  • Emotions can be contagious,

  • and when you see your friend scream and laugh,

  • you feel compelled to do the same.

  • This is because we make sense of what our friends are experiencing

  • by recreating the experience ourselves.

  • In fact, the parts of the brain that are active when our friend screams

  • are active in us when we watch them.

  • This not only intensifies our own emotional experience,

  • but makes us feel closer to those we're with.

  • The feeling of closeness during times of fear

  • is aided by the hormone oxytocin released during fight or flight.

  • Fear is a powerful emotional experience,

  • and anything that triggers a strong reaction

  • is going to be stored in our memory really well.

  • You don't want to forget what can hurt you.

  • So if your memory of watching a horror film with your friends is positive

  • and left you with a sense of satisfaction,

  • then you'll want to do it over and over again.

Somewhere right now, people are lining up to scare themselves,

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B1 US TED-Ed fear response haunted house experience survival

【TED-Ed】Why is being scared so fun? - Margee Kerr

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    吳D posted on 2016/04/30
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