Fear produces laughter and joy for many during Halloween

Fear produces laughter and joy for many during Halloween (NBC News Channel)

(NBC News) Every year around this time millions of people all across the country pay money to other people to scare the living daylights out of them, leading us to ask one very important question: Why?

"People just like to be scared," says Chad Mitchell.

Mitchell is the owner of the freakishly scary "901 Nightmare" in Edgemoor, South Carolina.

He and his group of ghoulish friends say fear can be fun.

"I just love scaring people. I love the reactions and the laughter and just everything about it," Mitchell laughs.

Fear comes naturally to humans. We've been running away from threats for millions of years as a basic survival mechanism. So why do some people run toward scary haunted houses?

"That partly has to do with our genetics," explains Dr. Katherine Brownloe of Ohio State Wexner Medical Center. "Some of our brains are just like needing a little bit more thrill and a little bit more neurologic tickle."

It's this thrill that tricks brains into thinking being scared is a real treat.

Two things happen when we're startled. First, the brain triggers our natural "fight or flight" response. That's the quickened heartbeat and adrenaline rush. Second, the brain is very good at assessing true risk, realizing almost immediately the spooky situation doesn't pose any real threat.

Read more:

close video ad
Unmutetoggle ad audio on off