Halloween is the time for scary stories, dressing up in creepy costumes and knocking on neighbours' doors in search for candy. On one night of the year the monsters come to life and adults get to play like when they were little. Using psychology to explore the dark and frightening nature of this holiday, it is time to reveal why we love Halloween and all things scary & terrifying!
Why do people love trick-or-treating? We love getting things for free. The fact that we don’t need to use our own resources to get something in return is a very attractive deal~. An extra bit of motivation for the children is that what they get when trick-or-treating is candy. And since most kids are (hopefully) not allowed to eat mountains of chocolate everyday, this special night becomes a real treat.
Why do people dress up in costumes for Halloween? Dressing up in scary costumes is an escape from reality. For one night we can leave our identities behind and create a new one for ourselves. Dressing up in costumes is also a social ritual. The theme of Halloween provides guidelines and gives us a unified concept to follow. Engaging in this tradition with your friends gives you something in common to do and helps you in creating memories. In addition to expressing your own identity with costumes, engaging in this activity with friends allows you to create alternative worlds. It is kind of like creating a new reality for one night.
Why do people like playing pranks? It’s all about the element of surprise. A successful prank is amusing for all parties involved and helps in strengthening the relationship. One of the most important aspects of practical jokes is the element of surprise~. Scaring a friend is all about surprise. The release of tension after being terrified to death by laughing it off, creates a bond between you two. Given of course that after scaring your friend he didn’t punch you in the face as a reflex…
Why do people like watching horror films? Feeling fear puts you body into physiological stress. So then why do we like getting scared? One of suggested reasons is that watching a scary film allows us to rehearse possible threatening situations. Granted, we don’t watch vampire film so that we know what to do the next time we run into a vampire but in case you ever do, you’d know what to do.
Fear awakens our senses and is a way of stimulation. Surprisingly, research revealed that the more negative emotions you’re feeling when you're watching a scary film, the more likely you are to say that you enjoy the horror genre in general. Lower empathy levels and tendency for aggression are also associated with scary film lovers. Although the exact reason why people so keenly engage in scaring themselves, one thing is certain. Whatever your motivation for watching a horror is, due to the physiological effects on your body, it is bound to be exciting!