Scream by Margee Kerr


Shiver-inducing science not for the faint of heart.No one studies fear quite like Margee Kerr. A sociologist who moonlights at one of America's scariest and most popular haunted houses, she has seen grown men laugh, cry, and push their loved ones aside as they run away in terror. And she's kept careful notes on what triggers these responses and why.Fear is a universal human experience, but do we really understand it? If we're so terrified of mons...

Details Scream

Release DateSep 29th, 2015
Number of pages274 pages
GenreNonfiction, Science, Psychology, Horror, Sociology

Reviews Scream

  • Will Byrnes
    Our threat response is automatic, but what we fear is largely learned. …I’m looking at how we experience fear biologically (and the consequences of continuous heightened fear states), how we construct fear socially, and how we interpret it psychologically. … These are my adventures in fear. What scares you? It varies for most of us, but certainly death and personal, physical harm will come out at or near the top. It certainly should. Along...
  • Audra
    Margee Kerr: if you're out there, reading this, will you please hire me? I live for October. I love haunted houses and go to all the ones I can get to in Colorado every year. I love scary movies, scary books, scary everything. I also took psychology and sociology classes in college because I want to know what makes people tick. You found a way to put those two things together to study and learn about fear as an emotion and as a social construct a...
  • Becky
    A 3.5 that I rounded down to 3 rather than up to a 4, because she shone so brilliantly in chapters, and at others times found her inner dialogue and flashbacks to personal experiences important, but ultimately misplaced within the broader narrative at the time. While I perfectly enjoyed reading about adventures, I could never quite connect with her voice during the more intimate moments, such as her emotional confrontation with the ideas of her o...
  • Tom Sweterlitsch
    A perfect blend of engaging memoir and academic insight--I was lucky enough to read an ARC of this intriguing book. The book starts with a description of Kerr's job at the Scarehouse and continues as she travels the world searching out the things that thrill and scare us most, from insane roller coasters to haunted asylums, explaining why so many people love to be so scared. Awesome book. Well done!
  • Kelsey Myers
    Margee Kerr is a sociologist who studies fear. She challenges herself to travel the world experiencing the wide range of how fear can present itself-- from physical thrills to haunted locales to the not-so-fun reality of living in high crime areas. In the end, I found this book to be too memoir for my taste. Sorry, Margee, but I really could care less about the first time you rode a roller coaster. And more than anything, I found myself annoyed t...
  • Bob Schnell
    Advanced reading copy review Due to be published September 29, 2015Did you ever wonder why haunted houses, horror films and thrill rides are so popular? Why do people enjoy being scared? Margee Kerr is a sociologist who tackles these questions in "Scream: Chilling Adventures in the Science of Fear". Not only does she take a laboratory view of the physical and psychological side of fear but she puts herself in the role of guinea pig as well. She t...
  • Justin Tate
    Unexpectedly poignant and thoroughly-researched, this is a one of a kind book that analyzes fear from all angles, from roller coasters to haunted houses to high-crime neighborhoods to PTSD. Meanders a little here and there, but overall a well-structured study that reads quick and makes you think. The notes on the positive effects of fear were especially noteworthy. Recommended!
  • Cassie-la
    ORIGINALLY POSTED: I finally dove into Scream, I was expecting a thorough exploration of fear. Sadly, the book was incredibly unbalanced, with Kerr either succeeding or failing chapter to chapter as she attempted to tackle a wide range of subjects. From the science that was far too science-y, to the sometimes painful person anecdotes, I was left wanting so much more.
  • Claire
    I've never enjoyed learning about a new subject as much as I did learning about the science of fear while reading this book. Not my typical read, I'd rather read a book to feel fear, not read to find out why I feel fear and why I enjoy and sometimes crave the feeling. But this book was written in a way that took you on a journey of someone else's fear and taught you along the way. There were several parts of the book that really stood out to me. ...
  • Robin
    Over the years, I've had a love/hate relationship with scary movies, books, and activities. I remember my first "almost-peed-my-pants" scary experience and that was when as a kid in the late 1950s, watching Twilight Zone's "Beauty is the Eye of the Beholder." Talk about a startling development! Even though it thoroughly scared me, it started my love affair with anything that would create fear, especially if ghosts and haunted mansions were involv...
  • Allisonlcarter
    Short take: A sociologist looks at fear. It's a lot less dry than that sounds. Using herself as a guinea pig, Kerr examines various kinds of fear -- biological fear (say, the fear of heights), psychological fears (being alone in the dark or fear of death), and engineered sorts of fears (haunted houses). She looks at both the sciencey side of things (less interesting to me, but that's just because of me) as well as how it fits into a broader socie...
  • jeremy
    in scream: chilling adventures in the science of fear, pittsburgh sociologist margee kerr explores the fundamental human emotion of fear. by visiting haunted houses, a former penitentiary, amusement parks, towering heights, japan's infamous suicide forest, a ghost hunt, and other scary (intentionally or otherwise) locales across the globe, kerr offers an account of fearful experiences. blending personal first-hand anecdotes with popular science (...
  • Colona Public Library
    This wasn't quite what I was expecting but still good. I was thinking this would be about her study of the haunted house and maybe I could pick up a few tips for my own seasonal haunting job, instead it's just a big study of fear and her personal experiences encountering them. She does cover Japanese Haunted Houses which was probably the best chapter because in my free time I watching things like this and ...
  • Michelle
    A unique and fascinating look into the terror of the horror industry and the impact on human emotion: "Scream: Chilling Adventures in the Science of Fear" authored by sociologist Margee Kerr, who also has worked in the famous "Scare House" a thrill attraction in Pittsburg, PA. Kerr takes her readers around the world touring haunted houses, thrill ride roller coasters, the CN Tower Edge Walk, the haunted Eastern State Penitentiary (1829-1971), the...
  • Jill Hutchinson
    I was not sure what to expect when I picked up this turned out to be a sociological/psychological study of fear mixed with the personal stories of the author's search for the ultimate terrifying situation. Why are people afraid of the dark, or ghosts, or spiders or height? And how does our brain react when we are faced with a flee or fight situation when we feel threatened by something that frightens us?It is an interesting study but t...
  • Tobin Elliott
    This was an enjoyable book. I was obviously mistaken in my belief that it would delve a lot deeper into the whys of fear. Still, for all of that, this part memoir, part investigation into the author's limits when it came to fear, with some science to back up the body's natural (or unnatural) reactions was interesting. But really, it's also very much a travelogue of various scary places around the world, from Toronto's CN Tower Edge Walk to the Su...
  • Emmy Groendyke
    Loved this book! Margee Kerr's writing reminded me a lot of Mary Roach who is one of my favorite authors ever. Margee's own adventures in the science of fear and testing her own limits of what scares her was completely fascinating to me. Her story about going to Japan's suicide forest, Aokigahara, was my favorite. One day I hope to enter that forest myself. Kerr also talks about our own perceptions of fear and what happens to us psychologically a...
  • April
    I found it hard to put this book down, not because it was scary, but because it was so interesting. That being said, I'm a big fan of scary things and find them fascinating along with anything about how the brain works. Although I lost a little interest in the latter part of the book about the fear of facing death, I understood its importance in the book. I also read a good portion of this book on Halloween night which made it even more enjoyable...
  • Tracey S
    3.75 stars
  • Alexandra
    Very fun--I want to have some spooky adventures now, too!
  • Fiona Karbo Baker
    Really interesting stuff!
  • Alexis
    An excellent book on the science of fear. This book was also feminist and talked about some of the sexual violence used in the horror industry. I liked the consideration given to the ethics of fear and fear based industries and to the concept of fear in different cultures (specifically Japanese and Colombian, as well as American). The author is a sociologist who studies fear and works at ScareHouse, a haunted house based in Pittsburgh. Throughout...
  • Emily
    I found some of the conclusions about the ethics of haunt attractions and dealing with personal fear very interesting and even helpful. Personal anecdotes as a framing device are fine, but I thought the author gave too much personal exposition. Using the examples of other subjects to illustrate points would have been more engaging than digging every personal story out of a single person. Plus it was borderline negligent that she didn't bring a Ja...
  • Chelsea
    I was expecting this to be... less of a personal experience diary. There was some good information but it listed more of her experiences with things that are supposed to be scary than the "fear happens because" that I wanted to read about. I enjoyed learning about the places she went and about which tests are used to measure fear responses. I would have liked more of that. Otherwise, a good read.
  • Liz
    This book was an interesting look into the science of fear, and why people love seeking out thrills and scary situations, such as roller coasters or haunted houses. The only thing I wanted to learn more about was why certain people (like me) don't find scary situations appealing. Personally, all but one of the situations Kerr put herself in sounded extremely unappealing to me, and I wanted to know why!
  • Jen Varela
    I loved this book! It's everything I hoped it would be. She takes us along on her thrilling adventures and as she is going through them, she is explaining the science behind what she is experiencing. I literally laughed out loud for some parts, cried a little and felt fear in a couple of other parts. This subject is fascinating to me and she did a fantastic job putting the information together in ways that I could relate to and understand.
  • John
    Reading Scream: Chilling Adventures in the Science of Fear is an eye opening experience. A hybrid psychology journal and informative travel guide, the book sets out to shed light on the reasons why we sometimes should feel afraid and what causes us to feel fear. Margee Kerr, the author of the book, states, "I became a sociologist because I wanted to make people's lives better. I wanted to find ways to end the hurtful and damaging impact of prejud...
  • Rosario (
    Margie Kerr is a sociologist who studies fear. She combines academia with a job as sociologist in residence at a haunted house attraction. In this book, she combines stories of her work there with travels to different fear-inducing attractions (from physical fear, like roller coasters and the amazing-sounding outside walk around the CN tower in Canada, to mental fear, like the “suicide forest” of Aokigahara in Japan and an old abandoned priso...