We knew it would happen some day. Finally, a study that says watching TV can be good for you.
It seems vegging in front of television can give you an energy boost. So says the author of a study published recently in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science that used two different scenarios to demonstrate her thesis.
But not any shows will work—just re-runs of favorite shows in which watching familiar characters is like hanging out with good friends, if your friends were less judgey and annoying and probably dressed better.
OK, onto the study particulars: In one set-up, half of the participants were asked to complete a complicated writing task, while the others were asked to do a similar, but much easier task.
Next, half of the study group wrote about their favorite TV show, while the other half listed items found in their room. Those who wrote about their favorite shows wrote for a longer period if they had just done the more complicated task than if they had completed the simpler task.
Also, those who wrote about their favorite show had a bigger boost of energy that allowed them to do better on a tough puzzle.
“In other words,” study author Jaye Derrick said in a news release, “there was a measurable restorative effect from a familiar fictional world.” Derrick is a research scientist at the University at Buffalo’s Research Institute on Addictions.
In the second scenario, study participants kept a daily diary, noting difficult tasks, what media they used, and their energy levels.
When complicated tasks were involved, people tended to watch a re-run of their favorite show, take another look at a favorite movie or re-read a much-loved book. Doing any of those gave them an energy lift as well.
The findings will no doubt be welcome news to those who don’t like the black-and-white notion that going for a walk or doing yoga is always the preferred way to restore vigor.
Derrick says it’s comforting to seek solace with pretend friends as we sit back and put our brains on hold.
“When you watch a favorite re-run, you typically don’t have to use any effort to control what you are thinking, saying or doing. You are not exerting the mental energy required for self-control or willpower. At the same time, you are enjoying your ‘interaction,’ with the TV show’s characters, and this activity restores your energy.”
She even went as far as saying that plopping in front of the TV might sometimes be better than getting together with live, three-dimensional people.
“Although there are positive outcomes to social interaction such as a sense of feeling of being energized,” she said, “human exchanges can also produce a sense of rejection, exclusion and ostracism, which may diminish willpower.”
Like we said, judgey and annoying.
Thank, you, Jaye Derrick, for understanding the power of television. Now, somebody pass the remote.
Do you find that watching a re-run of a favorite show gives you vitality when you're flagging? Let us know--and don't forget to mention your favorite show.
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Jeannine Stein, a California native, wrote about health for the Los Angeles Times. In her pursuit of a healthy lifestyle she has taken countless fitness classes, hiked in Nepal, and has gotten in a boxing ring. Email Jeannine | TakePart.com