Be afraid. Be very afraid.

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By: Jade Schwarting <jschwarting@hilite.org>

Higher speeds, longer drops, more bloodcurdling atmospheres. For some, fear is the only thing standing in their way of a great time. However, for others, this fear is the exact thing that attracts them to the most thrilling of activities.

Even with the fear of sickness, injury, or even death, people continue to seek out the events and rides that make their hearts race, lungs scream and bodies sweat, all for the joy of the thrill. “There’s a certain thrill on (a roller coaster) that you can’t get doing anything else,” freshman Payton Sanders said.

According to psychology teacher Robin Pletcher, people seek thrills for a variety of reasons. “Psychology would look at the different approaches or perspectives to explain this question. For example, the biological approach would say that a person has a genetic trait that causes him or her to seek thrills. The behavioral approach would say that the person received some kind of reward in the past for searching out thrills. The humanistic approach would say that the person is trying to reach some sort of goal by seeking the thrill,” Pletcher said.

Although some people develop their love for thrills, many were born ready. “The speed, adrenaline rush, and the fear that you get when you see the whole park from the top of the hill is the best,” sophomore Jamelynn Callahan said. Callahan, who attends a theme park every summer, says her favorite coaster is the Dragster at Cedar Point.

“I’m not afraid of any (roller coaster),” Callahan said. Although she is not afraid to take on the challenge of any coaster, Callahan does feel the effects after a ride. “After the adrenaline rush, you get shaky and then kind of calm,” Callahan said.

Increasingly, people of all ages search for the most terrifying of activities and look them straight in the eyes. The largest age group of thrill-seekers are teenagers to early thirties, according to Pletcher. “(Although) I have no factual information to base this answer on, (these ages) have that ‘I’m invincible’ mindset and don’t think they will get hurt since they are young,” Pletcher said.

Part of the excitement that the most daring of thrill-seekers search for is the fear that takes over their body during a frightening moment. “I like the false sense of danger of (the roller coasters). You’re not actually in danger but it feels like you are,” Sanders said. Sanders, who has ridden over 30 roller coasters, searches for those with the most speed he can find. “Different rides have different feels, which makes it a unique experience,” Sanders said.

According to Sanders, his top speedsters include the Beast at Kings Island, although a close second is the Wildfire at Silver Dollar Theme Park in Missouri. “If I’m looking for a good wooden coaster, then I go to Holiday World. If I want a sturdy, strong steel coaster, then I like Kings Island,” Sanders said.

Besides the physical sensations that noticeably occur after a thrill, many mental reactions take place as well.

During a frightening moment, “a physical reaction (takes place) in which hypothalamus gets activated and produces several different emotions. (In this case) it chooses fear and sends a signal to many different parts of the body. Some people sweat, some people shake, and others may even become aggressive,” psychology teacher Peter O’Hara said.

The excitement that some get from the most hair-raising of activities is directly related to the thrill of the ride. The fear that builds up and creates that adrenaline rush that fuels the dare devil in everyone is all part of the experience. Sanders said, “After the ride, I’m dizzy and my head starts to hurt a little bit, but it’s all worth it.”

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