Watching horror films boosts your confidence and mood, says expert
It's Halloween season, which means the spooky vibe is in full effect. It may not be as popular as Christmas, but this time of year definitely has its traditions and plenty of avid fans to its name. Whether you're taking your kids out trick or treating or dressing up for a house party, it's usually a pretty fun time of year.
What a lot of us will do in October is start watching more horror movies, trying to catch up on some recent scares or ticking off the classics. While we're all doing it for fun, there is apparently some added benefits to this pastime, other than a way to have an entertaining evening indoors.
According to sociologist Margee Kerr, the author of Scream: Chilling Adventures in the Science of Fear, watching horror movies and indulging in scares in a safe environment can boost our moods and our confidence.
"When people make it through .a safe yet scary activity it can lead to feeling confidence, like we have challenged our fears and overcome," Kerr told Pretty52. "Even though the threat is not real, the feeling of pushing yourself in the context of uncertainty and making it through is a reward in itself."
Kerr carried out a study in a haunted house in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania this month, which was detailed on The Conversation. In this study, 260 participants were asked to fill in a survey about their expectations and feelings before and after they entered the attraction, while their brain activity was also tracked.
Kerr explained that the participants were in a better mood straight after the scary experience, and the more scared they were inside - the better they felt afterwards. Additionally, many explained that by challenging their personal fears, they ended up learning about themselves, while the results showed that there were "widespread decreases in brain reactivity" out of the ones whose mood improved.
"In other words, highly intense and scary activities - at least in a controlled environment like this haunted attraction - may "shut down" the brain to an extent, and that in turn is associated with feeling better," Kerr wrote. Speaking to Pretty52, Kerr went on to explain that the 'fight or flight' response activated by these activities often end up making us feel significantly better afterwards:
"Our arousal system is activated and triggers a cascade of neurotransmitters and hormones like endorphins, dopamine, serotonin, and adrenaline that influence our brains and our bodies. But it's up to us to interpret this response as enjoyable and not actually threatening-the context is key.
"We often watch movies with friends and family. We're taking on these challenges together and in doing so creating stronger bonds, stronger memories and feelings of closeness.
"For many people engaging with scary but safe material offers an opportunity to 'get out of their head' for a while. Our thoughts can just take a break and we can enjoy being fully in our bodies.
"You're in the moment, and even better afterwards you feel like you really did overcome a challenge or fear so you feel more confident about the real, not scary fun threats that await you in the future."
So there you go - if you feel like throwing on a horror movie sometime soon, know that there's a good chance your mood will benefit from it... as long as it's a good one.