Cheer up with a tear-jerker!
Sitting down to watch a tear-jerker film could make you happier, scientists have claimed.
Researchers found that watching a tragic movie caused people to think about their own close relationships, which boosted their happiness as they counted their blessings.
The study involved 361 students who watched a tragedy (the 2007 film Atonement, starring Keira Knightley and James McAvoy) and reported affect, enjoyment, life happiness, and spontaneous thoughts.
Greater sadness led to greater enjoyment, mediated by life reflection; specifically, both self- and socio-focused thoughts mediated this sadness impact on tragedy enjoyment.
Furthermore, more sadness led to greater life happiness increase during exposure, mediated by socio-focused thoughts only. No parallel effects emerged for positive affect.
The present findings suggest that tragedy-induced sadness instigates
(a) life reflection that increases tragedy enjoyment as well as
(b) specifically thoughts about close relationships that, in turn, raise life happiness, which
(c) subsequently increases tragedy enjoyment further.
Professor Silvia Knobloch-Westerwick, who led the study at Ohio State University, explains further:
“Negative emotions make you think critically about your situation. So seeing a tragic movie may make you sad, but will cause you to think more about your own close relationships and appreciate them more.”
Knobloch-Westerwick S, Gong Y, Hagner H, Kerbeykian L. Tragedy Viewers Count Their Blessings: Feeling low on Fiction Leads to Feeling High on Life Communication Research 0093650212437758, first published on March 8, 2012 as doi:10.1177/0093650212437758