As I was researching I started to have trouble thinking of topics to write my three blog posts on. I felt I was at a standstill and decided to take a break before I became extremely discouraged. Whenever I am sad I know one thing that can instantly cheer me up: my favorite T.V. show. It is kind of peculiar that a fictional T.V. show with made up characters and plots can instantly change my mood and keep me captivated time and time again. Some shows have the ability to make you feel like you are there and the characters are your friends, which happens to me on a daily basis. So then I got thinking what is it that makes us so attached to these fictional characters and plot lines? I then knew what I wanted to do a post on: the science behind our attachment to T.V. shows.
In a world full of Netflix binge watching it is easy to bond with people over their favorite shows and episodes. It is also easy to become slightly obsessed. This however is not uncommon it is actually very normal due to the “social surrogacy hypothesis.” Events on T.V. shows allow a part of our brain to access memories and emotions. If you are struggling during a sad time it is easy to find comfort in the characters who are also feeling blue. Fictional characters can affect people in very real ways even changing them drastically. Live Science did a study on this exact subject and I found some really interesting findings. They stated that, “Subjects in one study who felt down from remembering unhappy moments of social rejection soon perked up upon writing about their favorite TV shows and characters.” Spending time with fictional characters could even pose as a break from spending time with actual people. When our favorite characters dies, we feel it, when our favorite couple breaks up it feels we are experiencing heart break too. “In a study published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, Jonathan Cohen, of the Department of Communication at the University of Haifa in Israel, examined the responses of television viewers to the potential loss of their favorite television characters. Cohen found that viewers anticipated experiencing the same negative reactions to parasocial breakups as they experience when their real social relationships dissolve. Even though parasocial relationships may offer a quick and easy fix for unmet belonging needs, individuals within these relationships may not be spared the pain and anguish of relationship dissolution.” T.V. shows and the feelings they cause can have major psychological effects.
The next time you find yourself crying when a character is killed off or smiling when a character has a major triumph know that what your feeling is normal and you are not alone.
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