Why Do Certain Sounds Scare Us?

  • October 21, 2016
Why Do Certain Sounds Scare Us?

<!–tree-1615690_960_720–>Imagine yourself sitting in a movie theater, just observing what is happening in the movie you’re watching. Then all of a sudden, you jump up in fear and you’re not sure why. Research has shown that the fear generated by certain sounds is actually a product of our evolved brains and is a biological component that is meant to help us stay safe.

Non-linear sounds, as they are known, are irregular sound waves that make us feel distressed in order to alert us of an imminent danger. Examples of irregular or distressing sound waves include the roar of a tiger or the low gurgling sound of an alligator. Sound waves reach our brain instantly, and therefore are processed a lot faster than images.

Filmmakers take advantage of this biological feature by using non-linear sounds in horror movies to increase the thrill for movie goers. For example, movies such as Jurassic Park mixed different combinations of non-linear sounds to produce the terrifying screeches of Dinosaurs.  Jaws is famous for the ominous theme song that plays right before a scene that features a shark attack. The sounds used in horror movies are strategically placed and geared towards playing into our fight or flight instincts.

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