It’s no coincidence that Michael Jackson’s Thriller sold 110 million copies and held the number one position in the charts for 35 weeks. Do you remember the video? It was the scariest, spookiest, ghouliest thing on TV at the time – and we couldn’t get enough of it. Remember the scene in cult movie Grease, where John Travolta takes Olivia Newton-John to a scary movie at the drive-in and makes his (rather awkward) move on her? Her eyes were so wide and alert, she was scared-stiff. It was the perfect scenario for some teenage romance. And more recently, the popularity of the contemporary horror movie has skyrocketed, becoming one of the top movie genres for teens, twenty and thirty-somethings. Even the mock-horror flick has become a box office favourite.
We all know someone who has been taken to a scary movie on a date, gone sky diving or white water rafting. For some reason being scared and dating seem to go together. My now-fiancé took me to a shooting range on our second date! I shot a Dirty Harry .44 Magnum (and scored a bull’s eye) despite being scared out of my mind … and being totally inappropriately dressed in a floral dress.
So why do we love being scared?
The science tells us that being scared is physiologically very similar to being aroused.
When we go into Fight or Flight mode, our body behaves in a way that is very much like the way it behaves when we are attracted to someone. Our heart rate and blood pressure increase in both scenarios, our pupils dilate and we have trouble focusing on anything else.
“Our arousal system is activated and triggers a cascade of ‘feel good’ neurotransmitters and hormones like endorphins, dopamine, serotonin, and adrenaline that influence our brains and our bodies,” says Dr. Margee Kerr, a Pittsburgh-based sociologist.
Testing the theory
In 2009, Psychologist Arthur Aron conducted a study using the very common fear of heights.
Aron had one group of men walk across a wobbly bridge which was 450-foot-long and suspended over a 230-foot drop, while a second group walked across a perfectly stable-feeling bridge over the same height. At the end of each bridge, the men met Aron’s very beautiful female assistant. She asked each subject a set of questions related to an imaginary study and then gave him her phone number in case he wanted more information.
Of the 33 men who’d walked across the stable bridge, two called the assistant. Of the 33 who’d walked across the wobbly bridge, nine called.
So when we are scared, our minds confuse the feeling with attraction.
Make the most of Halloween
Many Aussies are nonplussed about Halloween, some don’t celebrate it at all. But as an active and inspired single person (like you), you may see this as an opportunity. Imagine the possibilities, consider how you could maximise the ‘scare factor’ on the 31st October..
Have a spooky, sexy Halloween!