A BRAVE Daily Star Online reporter gets turned into a lab rat in the name of weird science.
Health and fitness boffins at the university wanted to look into how both body and mind react to being spooked.
We all know that, when we’re scared, our heart rate goes up – but is there method to the madness?
Christopher Stock from the Centre for Sports Medicine and Human Performance at Brunel University London decided the best way to find out is have a group of subjects watch a scary film, and observe their heart rate.
Being a subject in an experiment tends to make you feel more like a lab rat than a human, but the heart rate monitor strapped to my chest had me feeling a lot more like a robot.
It was cold, tight, and had a green light that blinked softly every few seconds.
By wearing it I was, technically, a cyborg – which is both spooky and awesome.
The experiment wouldn’t work with a familiar movie, so we were treated to a preview screening of upcoming horror flick, As Above, So Below.
As we prepared for the screening, they measured everyone’s vital statistics — all in the name of science, of course.
Age? 23. Height? 195cm. Weight? That’s a secret.
According to the researchers, our age and body type determine how we burn calories.
When we get excited our bodies chew through calories much faster, so part of the experiment also looked at how much energy our bodies used getting frightened.
I had no idea of how the heart monitors worked, and that steadily blinking LED started to get to me as we waited patiently for the film to start.
What if it started beeping once my heart rate gets too high?
As it turned out, I needn’t have worried so much, and watching the film was a smooth ride.
The heart monitors remained just that – no shrill beeps or electric shocks.
One particular jump scare made a subject scream out loud, which was satisfying to hear in an incredibly mean way.
Blu Evans, fellow intrepid journalist, also participated in the experiment.
He said: “I’m not particularly fond of horror films, which is why I’m so surprised I was so calm throughout this one.
“The heart monitor was really uncomfortable and it had me conscious of my heartbeat throughout the film – which I’m sure is no good for the results.“
Exiting the screening into the cold light of day, we were quickly sent the results.
On average the viewers burned 154 calories during the film, not that much more than you’d use relaxing on the sofa at home.
“The findings show that viewers of the film used more calories than the previously reported average for horror films and is a little more than you’d find in a small smoothie,” said Christopher.
So watching a marathon of the Saw films won’t be a good replacement for a workout, but you’ll likely burn off all the popcorn you ate.
As it turned out, 79% of the participants were more anxious after watching the film, even if they liked horror movies.
What’s more, there were a few moments everyone’s heart rate jumped at once, only around 30 seconds apart.
However, we weren’t all equally scared – everyone had a different point where his or her heart rate peaked the highest.
So don’t feel silly if you’re the only one to shriek during a scary moment – it’s likely everyone else will soon have their own knee-knocking moments.