The Benefits of “Recreational Fear”

It turns out that fear isn’t always a bad thing. In fact, recreational fear — the kind of fear you experience on purpose when going to haunted houses, skydiving, or watching horror films — can actually be good for your brain. Although some fear can create a stress response in the body that can be harmful, the body’s ability to feel fear is actually a good thing. It tells us to get away from danger and keeps us alive. Recreational fear can be exhilarating, while also helping us to cope with real fear when the time comes. Researchers are looking at the relationship between fear and enjoyment and trying to learn more about our responses to stress. They have suggested that we shouldn’t be so afraid of fear, especially when we can control the parameters, and maybe we should think twice about shielding kids from playful, recreational forms of fear.