London Dungeon fright tests find French and Italians are biggest scaredy cats

11:22 07 June 2012

The London Dungeon scare testing. Photo: Mikael Buck

The London Dungeon scare testing. Photo: Mikael Buck

© Mikael Buck

Who would have thought it – the French and Italians have been revealed as the world’s biggest scaredy cats following research by the one of London’s scariest attractions.

London Dungeon biggest scaredy cat rankings:

1. France

2. Italy

3. Brazil

4. England

5. Scotland

6. Sweden

7. India

8. Hungary

9. USA

10. Germany

The London Dungeon wanted to see how different nationalities react to its gruesome shows so it commissioned ‘thrill engineer’ Professor Brendan Walker to conduct tests into the ‘scare thresholds’ of visitors and come up with top 10 rankings.

Stimuli such as live rats and maggot-infested meat were used to study people’s responses, including heart rate, sweat levels and facial expressions.

At the end of the research Prof Walker and his team concluded the French were easiest to frighten followed by the Italians and Brazilians.

Next came the English and Scots, with Americans and Germans proving to be much harder to scare.

Prof Walker said: “Most of the ratings are in keeping with what one might expect in terms of predicted national responses but there are some curve balls in there.

“I would certainly have anticipated that France, Italy and Brazil would come high up the list of most ‘scared’, but am surprised at some of the Anglo countries’ (USA, England and Scotland) relative ‘squeamishness’ – hardly in keeping with the stereotypes of the unshakeable British bulldog or Scotland the brave.”

The attraction is now using Prof Walker’s research and its own observations to classify its shows by nationality, with ratings reflecting cultural sensibilities as opposed to the more commonplace age classifications given for films and games.

London Dungeon general manager Ben Sweet said: “The results have enabled us to introduce an international rating system across our shows so guests know what level of scare they are in for.

“It will also be very useful for our team of actors, enabling them to ramp up or tone down the experience for different groups.”

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