The thin line between fear and fancying someone - University of Sunderland lecturers explains why we like being scared

A Halloween podcast by the University of Sunderland explains why people love horror movies and says James Bond is a psychopath

Wednesday, 30th October 2019, 12:51 pm
Updated Wednesday, 30th October 2019, 4:36 pm
University of Sunderland Psychology Lecturer Dr Sophie Hodgetts

This year for Halloween, University of Sunderland Psychology lecturers Dr Amy Pearson and Dr Sophie Hodgetts answer some of life’s most curious questions as part of the University’s podcast series, Sunderland Talks.

Why do we like being scared?

Dr Pearson claims we seek out horror films and scary rides because being scared reminds us of another emotion, saying: “There is actually huge overlaps between how we feel when we are scared and how we feel when we’re excited.

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Two University of Sunderland Lecturers explain why we love all things scary.

“In both situations we get goose-bumps, our stomach feels uneasy, we start to sweat and our heart rate speeds up.

“These are things which happen when we are scared, but also when we meet someone we find very attractive – there is a thin line between the two.”

It is explained in the podcast that the physical sensation that these films produce explain why we watch them, Dr Hodgetts goes on to say: “Horror films, especially these days, are really good at getting under our skin; they have the ability to make you feel that things are real, they can leave us feeling on edge.”

Dr Pearson adds: “As humans, we seek out the physiological effects that horror film evoke; the sweaty palms, the racing heart, we want to feel these things knowing we are in a safe environment.”

University of Sunderland Psychology Lecturer Dr Amy Pearson

So what about psychopathic behaviour?

An example of a psychopath in the media is someone like James Bond, according to Dr Pearson.

She tells the podcast: “James Bond is very charming, witty and comes across as very attractive, but he’s also very disagreeable. He’s open to new experiences, he’s impulsive, he’s risk taking, but not very conscientious. Psychopaths have quite a large amount of self-belief – if they believe something is a good thing to do, then they’ll do it.”

Why do we enjoy true-crime stories?

University of Sunderland podcast - SunderlandTalk discusses all this spooky for Halloween

Dr Hodgetts says: “As humans, we like to understand why things have happened; we seek out explanations.”

Dr Pearson adds: “We are obsessed with the ‘odd’ and the ‘weird’. It’s alien to many of us why others could do these types of things.”