Guilty Of Watching Same TV Shows Again? Don’t Be, It Has Psychological Benefits

What do you turn to when you have 20 minutes to spare, want a show playing in the background as you eat supper, or need a pick-me-up after a long day? A cozy classic like Friends, New Girl, or Frasier?  Perhaps you’re one of those individuals for whom true crime is oddly satisfying, or perhaps you are into more modern day TV shows like The White Lotus or Wednesday.

Whatever you want to watch for comfort, you shouldn’t feel bad if you watch the same shows over and over again when you watch TV shows. In fact, it has been discovered that rewatching a film, series, or individual episode that has special meaning for us might improve our wellbeing.

Robert N. Kraft, a professor of cognitive psychology at Otterbein University in Ohio, claims that repeatedly watching familiar content satisfies our emotional needs, offers us comfort, increases our sense of control over our lives, and helps us stay connected to the past.

Why returning to the same TV Shows is beneficial to us

As he writes in his blog: “When rewatching familiar TV shows, we receive the stories and emotions we expect. We know how the episodes end and, more importantly, how we’ll feel when they end. This is one reason we’re more likely to choose comedies for repeated viewing instead of dramas or tragedies.”

“Many of us watch our favorite holiday movies because we want the story – and the emotional payoff we know is coming.” And there are several psychological explanations behind it.

First of all, nostalgia is therapeutic. Not only is it enjoyable to revisit beloved characters, situations, and storylines, but it also benefits our brains.

The emotional intricacy of nostalgia necessitates the brain to learn emotional control, according to a recent research. Even while most people would identify nostalgia with positive things, it also often comes with a “bittersweet” sense of longing or absence. Because of this, our brains must simultaneously balance both good and negative feelings, which generally calms our emotional state.

What’s more, we tend to like something more simply because we’ve been exposed to it, which is an outcome known as “the mere exposure effect”. According to Professor Kraft, we grow to appreciate and get more connected to a show over time when we watch it again. So watching for long periods of time has the reverse effect of making us numb to and bored with the information.

The “principle of least effort” states that we can let our thoughts unwind while still being amused if we are familiar with a tale. It is quite logical. A familiar show requires far less cognitive work to watch than a new one, and oftentimes ease is precisely what we need to unwind after a long day.

Of course, variety is never a bad thing, whether it’s in our wardrobes or on our watch lists. You’d be crazy to avoid dipping your toe into anything new, especially with so many intriguing brand-new releases scheduled for 2023.

But what about a tried-and-true option that lessens our decision fatigue and ensures that delightful dopamine rush?




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Rizwana Khan

Dreamer by nature, Journalist by trade.

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