Why We’re Obsessed with Halloween Haunted Houses, According to a Psychologist

Many Halloween fans love that the holiday is an excuse to dress up and eat orange-ified versions of their favorite candy. I’m obsessed with Halloween for a different reason. Every year, I make a list of the best, most frightening haunted house attractions in Southern California and try to hit as many as my calendar allows. I’m kind of a scaredy-cat in most other areas of my life (like, you’re never going to catch me lingering on top of a tall building), yet when it comes to paying people to scare me by wearing clown masks and wielding fake chainsaws, I’m like, yes, please take my money.

While I may be extra enthusiastic about haunted houses, obviously, I’m not alone in my enjoyment. Halloween attractions like Universal Studios’ Halloween Horror Nights attract thousands of thrill seekers each year. The real question is — well, why?

Frank McAndrew, a professor of psychology at Knox College who has written extensively about creepiness and horror, says these experiences provide an ideal emotional cocktail.

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