The psychology of scare: Why do we like to be frightened?

Haunted houses attract adrenaline junkies

TAMPA - A much viewed slideshow of snapshots taken inside a haunted house in Buffalo, New York offers a hilarious look at how we react to fear.

 The question is why do people line up and pay good money to get the wits scared out of them?

 "It's adrenaline" says Busch Gardens artistic director, Scott Swenson. "The folks who come to Howl-o-Scream and enjoy it are adrenaline junkies."

Swenson says to get a good scare you need to set a mood.  At Death Water Bayou, they use sound effects, lighting and even smell machines.

"Everything from mossy earth that makes you feel like you're under ground to  a scent of roses in a viewing room," said Swenson.

And even though everyone expects to be startled, haunted houses still find ways to make you jump.

"A guest will see somebody else get scared ahead of them and go, O.K.  the guy is up there. Meanwhile the other one comes right next to them," said Swenson.

Tampa Psychiatrist Rahul Mehra agrees that adrenaline is a high for certain thrill seekers, but the  assurance of safety makes is worth the price of admission.

"Fear is a very normal human emotion. One way of mastering that fear is to put yourself in a fearful situation that you know is going to have some external controls," said Mehra.

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