October has arrived, and you may have notices various sign of Halloween not too far off. Given this time of the year, I wanted to see if there was a correlation of Schachter's Theory and customers of "haunted attractions" such as Valley Scare, Frightmares at Buck Hill, etc. In high school I had the opportunity to be apart of an "attraction" in my home town. It was a fund raiser for the local fire explorers, and we would turn a 9,000 square foot horse barn at the county fair grounds into a haunted house. I was apart of this event for four years and experienced many interesting situations throughout.
When thinking about Schachter's classic experiment, I couldn't help but to compare it to the way people act inside a haunted house. As an actor in the haunt I had a first hand experience in seeing how the various patrons would react to many different settings.
The independant variable would be the same as Schachter's, there are high fear situations such as a group of people being surprised by an actor in the dark or even such things as certain classic horror film scenes being recreated. There can also be low fear situations such as empty hallways connecting the rooms or the final exit while leaving the haunted house. The subjects or patrons are selected at random but all have the knowledge of what they are expecting, they would enter the building in small groups which usually consisted of people they know.
High Fear Situation:
Just like Schachter's experiment concluded, when a group of people are exposed to a situation that unanimously conducts fear they tend to stay together in a group (a very tight group). The patrons would practically climb on top of each other because that would be their natural response to the thrill they were seeing.
Low Fear Situation:
Even though these situations are rare in a haunted house, I was able to see them first hand. One great way I saw this was in what we call a "Drop Panel".
In the video you will see that a section of a wall will slide down to reveal an actor behind it. This was especially good to see low fear situations because the customers would be caught off-guard, usually walking down a dark hallway. The one year I was behind the drop panel, I saw the same situation. The group would be walking down the hallway, still single file, but somewhat staggered. As soon as the panel would drop and I would be revealed the patrons would almost freeze in place, but then scurry off in a much condensed group.
I think this experiment and my perspective of haunted house customers are pretty closely correlated. People exposed to high fear tend to stay together, where as people who are not exposed to fear at all are more likely to be independent.