Why do we like spooky things?

Have you ever heard of the term “recreational fear”? With this term, we often define a mixed emotional experience of fear and enjoyment which we can get from a variety of activities, by going to buy Guggimon figures and other situations.

In this article, we explore the matter of recreational fear and find out more about why we humans love it so much. As this is very much in line with the time period of the year, we can now dive into the Halloween spirit thanks to a better understanding of the reasons behind our love for spooky things.

Key Takeaways

  1. Recreational fear combines enjoyment with the emotion of fear.
  2. Fear is a basic, protective human survival mechanism.
  3. Recreational fear offers safe, controlled adrenaline rushes.
  4. Scary movies and haunted houses provide pleasurable thrill.
  5. Brain’s threat-response activated safely through recreational fear.
  6. Scary objects in decor offer controlled fear experiences.
  7. Recreational fear positively affects mood and brain activity.

Why Do We Need Fear?

The concept of recreational fear lies in the paradox of horror which states that being scared when the circumstances are right can actually be a very enjoyable activity. The thing is that we have the emotion of “fear” for a reason and the actual feeling of fear is not a pleasant one, normally. Have you ever asked yourself why humans need fear? Well, let us tell you all about it.

Fear is one of the most basic and important human emotions. Our nervous system has it ingrained in itself as a means of protection, as an emotion that works like an instinct. From our childhood to the end of our lives, we are actually equipped with this amazing survival tool that can protect us in any given situation.

Fear is actually there to help us survive. It makes us alert and able to spot danger and deal with it if necessary. Feeling afraid must therefore be seen as a normal and very human reaction to a situation. In a dangerous situation or one that is perceived as such, the brain reacts instantly and sends signals to activate the nervous system.

This creates a chain reaction which expresses itself in the body through an accelerated heartbeat, rapid breathing and many others. You probably heard the term “fight or flight” before and that’s basically your body and mind deciding whether or not you should face the danger or simply run for it.

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Fear Today

The way fear works is quite primal, and, back in the day, when we were facing many more life-or-death threats, it was definitely a useful tool to have. But how about today? Why do we still need fear today, as life has changed and there are fewer tigers and bears attacking us in the wild?

Well, we still fear things, of course. From phobias to abstract fears, everyone experiences quite a bit of this emotion throughout their lifetime. On the other hand, fear also became something pleasurable, and in this section, we will see how that works and why we love it so much.

Recreational fear is an activity performed by many people, most of all in the Halloween season. We love to watch scary movies, go to haunted houses, or simply listen to ghost stories because these kinds of activities and continents give us an adrenaline rush.

When we feel fatigued, our endocrine system releases not only adrenaline but also noradrenaline and cortisol, which are useful to prepare your body for physical action, which is often not needed due to the recreational setting of these activities nowadays.

Watching horror movies, for example, was researched in terms of its effects on the brain, and studies have shown that watching horror movies actually activates many threat-response brain regions such as the amygdala, the prefrontal cortex, and the insula, just as if we were facing a real danger. After the scare, many people actually experience an elevated mood, which can be considered one of the reasons why people love scary movies so much.

Scary Objects

The appeal of scary movies is quite evident but how about more subtle scary things like objects? There are many theories behind that but the most popular one is that people like to feel a little thrill while looking at them or while using them to decorate their homes.

Spooky sculptures, paintings and much more are often found in homes and people have a variety of reasons behind their choices of buying them and displaying them as they do.

A more edgy taste in decorations is also a good reason behind this practice but the unifying aspect seems to be the same one for everyone: a little thrill. In other words, we collect odd and spooky objects to “control” fear and feel it whenever we want in a sort of micro dosage.


  1. What is Recreational Fear? Recreational fear refers to the mixed experience of fear and enjoyment derived from activities like watching horror movies or visiting haunted houses, especially popular during the Halloween season.
  2. Why Do Humans Experience Fear? Fear is a basic human emotion, evolved as a survival mechanism. It triggers a ‘fight or flight’ response, making us alert and capable of handling dangerous situations.
  3. How Does Recreational Fear Differ from Actual Fear? Unlike real fear that signals danger, recreational fear is sought for enjoyment, offering an adrenaline rush without actual threats, often resulting in an elevated mood afterward.
  4. Why Do People Enjoy Scary Movies and Haunted Houses? People enjoy these activities for the adrenaline rush and mood elevation they provide. They activate brain regions related to threat response, but in a safe, controlled environment.
  5. What is the Appeal of Scary Objects in Decoration? Scary objects like spooky sculptures or paintings offer a thrill or micro-dosage of fear, allowing people to ‘control’ and experience fear in a safe way as part of their home decor.
  6. How Does Recreational Fear Affect the Brain? Recreational fear stimulates the same brain regions as real fear — like the amygdala and prefrontal cortex — but in a safe context, often leading to mood improvement.
  7. Is Recreational Fear Beneficial? Yes, engaging in activities that induce recreational fear can have positive effects, such as mood enhancement and the thrill of experiencing controlled, non-dangerous fear.
  8. Can Recreational Fear Be Enjoyed by Everyone? While many enjoy recreational fear, individual preferences and sensitivities vary. It’s not universally appealing, and some may find it less enjoyable or even distressing.
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In Conclusion

In this article, we talked about our fascination for spooky activities and objects. We started by explaining why we feel fear and how it works in the brain. After that, we explained the concept of recreational fear and how scary activities done for pleasure actually have a beneficial effect on the brain.

After that, we talked about scary objects and the reasons why people like to collect them even if they don’t quite look like “normal” decorative objects. The main reason behind that seems to be a micro dosage of fear, which could have a similar impact on the brain and therefore on mood.

We hope you enjoyed this article and that you will be able to make the most of this spooky season and engage in several activities connected to recreational fear to improve your mood and explore the realm of non-dangerous and controlled fear, which so many people already love.

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