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Recreational Fear Lab is a research unit dedicated to the scientific investigation of frightening leisure activities.

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, and you can read more about our work in this primer by lab director Mathias Clasen. If you are interested in participating in our research (as a collaborator, research assistant, or participant), please get in touch.

Our research has been widely featured in national and international news media, including New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, Smithsonian Magazine, Scientific American, Good Morning America, and Atlas Obscura.

The lab’s research activities are funded by a generous grant from the Independent Research Fund Denmark in the period 2020-2023 as well as a generous grant from the Innovation Fund Denmark in 2022.