Here's Why We Like Being Scared

Why do we love roller coasters, even though they can make our stomachs feel like they've dropped entirely out of our bodies? Why do we voluntarily visit haunted houses, where actors dressed in grotesque costumes lurk behind every corner and wait to jump out and make us scream? Why do we insist upon watching horror movies that leave us huddled beneath the covers on the couch?

In short: Because it's fun.

According to a new TED-Ed video from educator Margee Kerr, "Fear has a bad wrap, but it's not all bad." Our bodies respond to fear with the basic physiological reaction of fight or flight and release chemicals that help protect us by boosting energy, protecting us from feeling pain, and shutting down non-essential systems, like pesky critical thought.

When we're in real danger, these physiological responses are necessary for our survival. But when we're not in any danger, like when we are merely riding a roller coaster for the fifth time in a row, our bodies are free to stop focusing on survival and start focusing on a little thing Kerr describes as "the natural high of being scared."

So, sign us up. We'll take our natural highs wherever we can find them, thank you very much.

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