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The lab’s main research project in the period 2020-2023 is “When Fear is Fun: An Empirical Investigation of Recreational Fear,” which is funded by the Independent Research Fund Denmark. We are currently interested in the following research questions:

  • What is recreational fear, and what can it be used for?
  • What characterizes engagement with recreational fear across the lifespan?
  • What psychological and physiological characteristics are associated with recreational fear?
  • When does recreational fear turn into real fear?

We approach these research questions from different angles, using a range of empirical methods including surveys, experimental lab designs, and data collection in naturalistic settings (such as commercial haunted houses). See, for example, our Psychological Science article "Playing with Fear: A Field Study in Recreational Horror" (2020).

The aim of our research is to shed light on a paradoxical, pervasive, and peculiarly understudied phenomenon. Hopefully, we will in time know much more about why people like to play with fear. It may turn out that such behavior has positive benefits in terms of bonding and learning effects.