Why Do We Like Being Scared? – with Brendan Walker

Humans have an odd relationship with fear and pleasure. We seek out horror movies, rollercoasters and extreme experiences on a weirdly regular basis – but why?
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Thrill-seekers will attest to the rush we can get from being hurtled around a theme park and dropped into the pitch black at terrifying speeds. But there’s something undoubtedly confusing about the link we experience between being petrified and pleasure.

In this talk Brendan Walker explores the ‘thrill-seeking gene’, how we can optimise rides to reverse-engineer fear, and why we find it so fun to be frightened.

Professor Brendan Walker’s expertise spans art, design, science, technology, and engineering. He has spoken at Tate Modern about his work, hosted the Global Design Forum for Sir John Sorrell, and facilitated sessions for Crafts Council, as well as developing and delivering science and technology Christmas public lectures.

He currently holds the post of Professor of Creative Industries at Middlesex University, and has previously held posts as Deputy Head of Design Interactions at the Royal College of Art, and Principal Research Fellow in Computer Science at the University of Nottingham.

This talk was filmed in the Ri on 28 February 2020.


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