'Benign Masochism': The Theory That Explains Why You Enjoy Chillies, Depressing Music And Rollercoasters

The science of why we're 'glad to be sad'

There's always one person who goes for the spiciest curry on the menu while sweating profusely and throwing back pints of water still claiming he's enjoying it. 

Chilis aren't the only way people like to enjoy something punishing - many people get off on watching sad films, listening to depressing music or riding terrifying rollercoasters. 

Benign masochism is a term coined by University of Pennsylvania psychologist Paul Rozin and Kendra Pierre-Louis at Aeon. It refers to the list of seemingly unpleasant activities that lots of people get a kick out of. 

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Rozin explained why in his paper for journal Judgement and Decision Making titled 'Glad to be sad':

"Benign masochism refers to enjoying initially negative experiences that the body (brain) falsely interprets as threatening. This realisation that the body has been fooled, and that there is no real danger, leads to pleasure derived from 'mind over body.'" 

The theory focuses on the negative physical experiences of these actions like your tongue burning from the spice of a red chili or stomach dropping in the loop of a rollercoaster. 

Interestingly the research found women were more likely to enjoy the depressing effects of a sad film while men more likely to seek out the sharp alcoholic burn from whisky. 

What do you think?

David Beckham lookalike
Life
Share
Twitter Is Roasting This Guy Who Spent £20k To Look Like David Beckham
Worth it?
Life
Share
Why Zach Galifianikis Won't Have Donald Trump On Between Two Ferns
"I feel like I'd be taking advantage of him."
Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton
Life
Share
The 22 Funniest Tweets About The First Donald Trump Hillary Clinton Presidential Debate
Here's all the Internet gold you missed.
megaphone
Life
Share
Your Voice is More Powerful Than Your CV For Getting You A Job
The written word only gets you so far​​
Wedding crashers
Sex & Relationships
Share
The Average UK Wedding Cost Would Send Your Bank Balance Into A Tailspin
​​Ouch​
Sex & Relationships
Share
What It's Like Living With A Micropenis
"Even when I was inside her, she kept asking me, 'Is it in?'"​​
Knocked Up
Sex & Relationships
Share
8 Women Share Their One Night Stand Horror Stories
Lessons in how not to do it​
Sex & Relationships
Share
I Want To Date My Boss, But I Think She Hates Me
Dave Holmes is here to help
Gigi Hadid =
Life
Share
Gigi Hadid Reacts Entirely Appropriately To A Stranger Picking Her Up By Smacking Him One
"How dare a man think he has the right to man-handle a complete stranger?"​
dinner date
Sex & Relationships
Share
Revealed: The Most Unattractive Things You Can Do On A First Date
64 per cent of people are put off by too much phone use​