Enactive Horror: An Evolutionary Analysis of Haunted Attractions

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Threat simulations in the form of horror stories have existed for thousands of years because they satisfy an evolved appetite for vicarious experience with danger and negative emotion. Now, haunted attractions, or haunts, are becoming a multi-million dollar industry in North America and abroad. In such attractions, paying costumers confront frightening set pieces and scare actors. Despite their commercial success, the phenomenon has attracted very little research. This study analyzes the structure of one major Danish haunt from an evolutionary perspective, suggesting that successful haunts are designed to facilitate immersion and the elicitation of negative emotions ranging from disgust to fear in costumers. In contrast to observational horror (e.g. in literature and film), which situates audiences as passive observers, haunts position visitors as active participants in live-action horror scenarios. Haunts thus potentially fulfill the function of providing consumers with threat simulations more effectively than does observational horror.
Original languageEnglish
Publication year2017
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2017
EventHBES 2017 - Boise, ID, United States
Duration: 31 May 20173 Jun 2017


ConferenceHBES 2017
CountryUnited States
CityBoise, ID

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