Halloween Festivals and Events

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California Halloween Haunt Psychology


Isn't California scary enough? Here are some aspects of why people seek scares.

list of haunted attractions

So why do Californians flock to haunted houses & attractions in search of a good scare? Psychologist Frank Farley has studied the phenomenon of the Type T (thrill-seeker) personality, men and women who thrive on the uncertainty and the intensity associated with activities such as sky-diving, scary movies, and haunted houses. It's not uncommon for individuals to push the envelope, seeing how much fear they can tolerate. Humans are born with an almond-shaped mass of gray matter in the anterior portion of the temporal lobe called the amygdala, the flight or fight portion of the brain. Scare fascination:

  • People thrive on the uncertainty and the intensity associated with activities.
  • They get great satisfaction being able to say that they conquered and mastered something that was threatening.
  • They gain satisfaction when they're able to endure the anxiety.
  • They're interested in the unusual and the bizarre because they don't understand it and it's so different from everyday occurrences.
More about the physiology of fear in our brain. Thank the amygdala! The amygdala is a dual sensory input system-- inputs run from the ears, eyes, and other sense organs to the thalamus. One pathway leads directly to the amygdala while the other first passes through the cortex. The amygdala is specialized for reacting to stimuli and triggering a physiological response described as the emotion of fear. After this, the stimuli of the activation of the amygdala is transmitted to the cortex. It is distinctly different from a conscious feeling of fear. Feelings arise from the second, slower pathway that travels from the sensory input first to the higher cortex and then to the amygdala. In the cortex the frightening stimulus is analyzed in detail, drawing on information from many parts of the brain, and a message is sent back down to the amygdala. The startle circuit activated when the info hits the amygdala prepares the body for immediate reaction to the stimulus. Its physiological effects are similar to the initial stages of fear. Unfortunately the neural connections from the cortex down to the amygdala are less well developed than are connections from the amygdala back up to the cortex. Thus, the amygdala exerts a greater influence on the cortex than vice versa. Once an emotion has been turned on, it is difficult for the cortex to turn it off.


Events subject to change; they are deemed reliable but are not guaranteed.

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