A new paper suggests that watching a rerun of a favourite TV show may help restore the drive to get things done when reserves of willpower or self-control are depleted.The findings come from two studies by Jaye Derrick, Ph.D., a research scientist at the University of Buffalo’s Research Institute on Addictions.
“When you watch a favourite rerun, you typically don’t have to use any effort to control what you are thinking, saying or doing,” Derrick said. “At the same time, you are enjoying your ‘interaction’ with the TV show’s characters, and this activity restores your energy.”
In the first study, “Energized by Television: Familiar Fictional Worlds Restore Self-Control,” participants who wrote about their favourite show presented restored their energy levels, which allowed them to perform better on a difficult puzzle.
In the other participants kept a daily diary, and Derrick found that participants who had an difficult task to do were more likely to seek out a rerun of their favourite television show, re-watch a favourite movie or re-read a favourite book.
“People have a limited pool of these valuable mental resources,” Derrick said. “When they [perform] a task, they use up some of this limited resource… With enough time, these mental resources will return. However, there may be ways to more quickly restore them.”
Derrick noted that watching whatever is on TV or watching an episode of a favourite show for the first time doesn’t provide the same benefit.
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