(CNN) — Haunted houses, horror films, scary novels, and chilling art: Do you ever wonder why we seek out situations that terrify us?
Experts say that being scared, at least when we can control it, can be healthy.
“People like to be scared, but there is scared, and there is ‘scared,’ ” said Jeffrey Goldstein, a psychology professor and expert in violence and entertainment at Utrecht University in the Netherlands. “You can be frightened in a movie or a play that is designed that way, and that can be a good kind of scared.”
But, he said, there’s a difference between real and fake fright.
Take the scary clown phenomenon that has plagued the United States and Europe. That is not a scare that people enjoy, because we don’t know the scary clowns’ motivation. “This plays with the border of what is unpleasant and threatening and may be violent,” Goldstein said.
Translation: Scary clowns on the silver screen, yes; scary clowns you encounter in the woods, no.
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