Watching movies has psychological benefits, and here is all we know about it!

The Bridge Chronicle looks at the psychological benefits of watching movies
The benefits of watching movies
The benefits of watching moviesThe Bridge Chronicle

Most of us would agree that movies are a great conversation starter. We often resort to it when striking up a conversation with friends or even someone we have met recently. Movies are also a great to-go-to on a night-in with friends or alone. But did you know, movies are not just an entertainer, but also beneficial for our overall health?

Sounds off, right?

Since our childhood, we have been told, and science proves that excessive screentime is detrimental to our brain structure and impacts our cognitive abilities such as memory and focus. However, as it turns out, the same is not the case with movies. Some studies show that watching movies can make you more productive and help with your mental wellbeing. A study conducted by researchers at University College London and Vue Cinema found that people who watched movies experienced improved mental focus and fixation towards the movie. This focused watching (according to the study) helps to improve cognition and memory. Another study has also highlighted that liking trash films is linked to a high level of intellectual intelligence.

Keyvan Sarkhosh, a researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics, says, "to such viewers, trash films appear as an interesting and welcome deviation from the mainstream fare. We are dealing here with an audience with above-average education, which one could describe as 'cultural omnivores'. Such viewers are interested in a broad spectrum of art and media across the traditional boundaries of high and popular culture." Keyvan has conducted similar studies and found that people who watch horror movies have above-average intelligence.

Basis these studies, The Bridge Chronicle explored various other benefits of watching movies:

Watching movies makes you more empathetic and strengthen relationships:

Have you ever felt a character in a film was exactly like you or very similar to you? Maybe it is something about their personality or the portrayal of a character. However, this association also impacts individuals on an emotional level. Studies suggest that watching movies can increase our emotional intelligence and also help in improving social connectivity. A study conducted by psychologists at Oklahoma University studied the relation between fictional drama and emotions. For the purpose of the study, the subjects were divided into two groups. One group was shown fictional dramas or documentaries. While the other group was asked to either watch documentaries or nothing at all. These groups then underwent reading the eyes in the mind test. According to the results of the test, researchers found a consistency in the feelings of the participants who watched the fictional drama.

Movies can boost mood and improve mental health:

Imagine you have had a really hard day at work, and are trying hard to take your mind off a few things. But the problem is that your mind keeps going back to worrying about work. How do you fix it? Watch a movie or Netflix maybe? Psychological research and therapeutic practitioners verify that watching movies is one of the best ways to deal with anxiety or depression. Dr Noah Uhrig, a group leader of a study on similar lines says, "The cinema is a form of social participation with strong egalitarian properties. The costs of attending the cinema are less prohibitive than other forms of cultural consumption such as the symphony, the ballet or the opera. At the same time, cinema attendance is not a wholly low-brow activity as it is also an integral component of an omnivorous leisure portfolio, i.e., those that attend higher cultural activities also attend the cinema."

Sad films can make us happy: It is similar to the effect that sad songs have on our mood, they uplift us and make us feel lighter. Sad music resonates with our feelings helping us find an outlet for them. Similarly, sad movies help us find an outlet for our feelings hence making us feel less sad. However, there hasn't been any study on the same, but studies on the effect of sad music in uplifting moods in people help understand the phenomenon better.

Whether it is thriller, drama, horror or romance — whichever genre that you prefer, now there is proof that movies don't only entertain you but also help your mental wellbeing.

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