TV Reruns Make Us Better People

September 7, 2012 8:46 am 1 comment

Say that again? Or perhaps just watch it again. Researchers at the University of Buffalo are convinced that watching reruns of our favorite TV shows could make us better people, at least in the short run, by boosting our willpower and making us more willing to sacrifice for others. A University of Buffalo news release reports that researchers at the school asked half of the subjects in a research group to complete a structured task that required concentrated effort, while the other half was asked to complete a similar but less structured task that allowed them more freedom and required much less effort. Next, half of the participants were asked to write about their favorite television show while the other half listed items in their room. The researchers found that those who wrote about their favorite television show (rather than listing items in their room) wrote for longer if they had done the structured task than if they had done the less-structured task, –evidence, the researchers say, that those people were seeking out their favorite TV shows and they wanted to spend more time thinking about them. They also found that writing about their favorite television show restored energy levels and allowed people to perform better on a difficult puzzle. Wait, there’s more: in the second study, participants kept a diary, reporting on their difficult tasks, media consumption and energy levels each day. If they had to do difficult tasks, they were more likely to seek out a re-run of their favorite television show, to re-watch a favorite movie or to re-read a favorite book. If they did watch a rerun, their energy levels were restored. How does that work?  The researchers believe there’s something special and comfortable about a “relationship” in which you already know what the other person is going to say and do, and all you have to do is sit there and enjoy it. They also found that after thinking about a favorite television show, people are more willing to forgive others, more willing to help a stranger and more willing to sacrifice for their romantic partner. Read more from the University of Buffalo. Read an abstract of the study here.

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