Why Our Brains Crave TV After A Long Day At Work

watching tv tired

Photo: Flickr/Caitlinator

We love watching TV at the end of a long day because “…immersion in (a) familiar fictional world restores self-control.”

Work depletes self-control and willpower. Socializing can restore energy but it can also require effort.

favourite TV shows are like pseudo-socializing. They effectively restore self-control without you having to get off the couch.

Enacting effortful self-control depletes a finite resource, leaving less self-control available for subsequent effortful tasks. Positive social interaction can restore self-control, but hurtful or effortful social interaction depletes self-control. Given this conflict, people might seek an alternative to social interaction to restore self-control. The current research examines social surrogate restoration—the possibility that people seek a social surrogate when depleted, and that seeking social surrogacy restores self-control. One experiment (Study 1) and one daily diary (Study 2) demonstrate that people seek familiar fictional worlds (e.g., a favourite television program) after exerting effortful self-control. Moreover, immersion in this familiar fictional world restores self-control. Supplementary analyses suggest that it is the social nature of this familiar fictional world that contributes to restoration.

Source: “Energized by Television: Familiar Fictional Worlds Restore Self-Control” from Social Psychological and Personality Science

More From Barking Up The Wrong Tree:

Does TV increase empathy?

What TV shows are we most drawn to? Are they really the ones we say we enjoy?

Why does TV make us unhappy?

Read more posts on Barking Up The Wrong Tree »

Join 25K+ subscribers. Get a free daily update via email here.

NOW WATCH: Ideas videos

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.