Fear Factor is scarier than Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

On Halloween, a past study resurfaces, finding that Fear Factor is, in fact, quite scary for viewers.

A Forbes article mentions a past study that “[found] that viewers become more distressed while watching the show compared with watching a movie with the same circumstances,” according to Psychology Today.

Midwestern State University researchers Michael Vandehey and Celeste McCarty “measured the heart rates of 60 subjects while they watched television. They were shown two clips, one from the [reality] show and one from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. In both clips, people were covered with insects.”

Fear Factor was scarier, increasing “viewers’ heart rates by 11 beats per minute,” versus just eight for the film. The researchers also found that viewers “reported more negative emotions while watching the reality stunts.”

But the research is kind of outdated now, as the NBC reality show isn’t the scariest reality offering. What about monitoring the heart rates of people watching footage of Janice Dickinson?

Real Fear: Why we love “Fear Factor” [Psychology Today]

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.