With experience design on the rise in travel, the Liseberg amusement park in Gothenburg is tapping into the darker side of human emotions by finding out what really terrifies people. Jenny Southan reports

On October 11, 2023, thrill-seekers will convene at a secret location in Sweden for the “Peak Fear Experiment” an audacious venture orchestrated by Swedish amusement park Liseberg in partnership with scientists from the Recreational Fear Lab at Aarhus University in Denmark.

Since the inauguration of “Halloween at Liseberg” in 2015, nearly two million visitors have flocked to the Gothenburg-based amusement park to experience its spine-chilling Halloween attractions. In a bid to delve deeper into the psychology of fear, Liseberg and Recreational Fear Lab are now on a mission to discover the “sweet spot” between entertainment and discomfort.

Could being scared be good for you?

Mathias Clasen, PhD and co-director of the Recreational Fear Lab, suggests that indulging in frightening experiences could have numerous benefits. “Frightening entertainment may serve as a kind of fear vaccine, building resilience to stress and anxiety,” says Clasen. “We are thrilled to collaborate with Liseberg to apply our research in a real-world setting to optimise the art of scaring people in a fun and beneficial manner.”

Who can participate?

If you are over 18, revel in frightful experiences, and can make it to Sweden on the said date, you might be just the right candidate for this pioneering experiment. “We aim to find the perfect balance between fun and unpleasant fear,” says Mårten Westlund, PR and communications director at Liseberg.

According to Recreational Fear Lab, horror enthusiasts mainly fall into three categories: adrenaline junkies, those wanting to conquer their fears, and those who use these experiences to better navigate a frightening world.Peak Fear Experiment, Liseberg

What awaits participants?

Participants will be put through an array of fear-inducing scenarios designed to explore their “Peak Fear”. A jury comprising representatives from both the Recreational Fear Lab and Liseberg will select the brave souls willing to embark on this intriguing journey. All volunteers will be closely monitored by a team of physicians and psychologists, and a health examination will be conducted prior to the experiment.

“Liseberg specializes in crafting emotional experiences – be it through roller coasters, concerts, or horror events,” says Westlund. “Through ‘The Peak Fear Experiment,’ we aim to expand our understanding of fear to tailor more captivating and enjoyable experiences for our visitors in the future.”

Liseberg will cover all travel and hotel expenses for those chosen to partake in this unique endeavor, offering a fully immersive experience in the science of fear.

For anyone keen on pushing the boundaries of psychological thrill, this promises to be an unparalleled event, merging the realms of entertainment and scientific research.