I just learned about the new Recreational Fear Lab at at Aarhus University in Denmark, where researchers and academics explore the psychological, physiological, and social phenomenons of the human desire to be scared shitless.
Fear is commonly understood to be a negative emotion – an unpleasant emotion you’d prefer to avoid, and one that diminishes your well-being. However, fear can also be an engine in a range of leisure activities, from toddlers being play-chased by caretakers to movie audiences screaming in delight at a horror movie.The recreational fear lab investigates the conditions under which fear can be fun, social, and inherently meaningful. We use a range of empirical methods and techniques to conduct this investigation.
The Recreational Fear Lab launched in 2020, with funding from the Independent Research Fund Denmark and the Innovation Fund Denmark. If you want a sample of some of the work they’ve done, check out the video above, or the essay “How Horror Helps our Brain” from founder Mathias Clasen.