Sad movies and gratitude increase personal happiness


Tragedies make people happier. At least they do at the movies.

Researchers have found that watching a tragedy caused people to think about their own intimate relationships which then boosts their happiness. The negative is turned positive.

“Tragic stories often focus on themes of eternal love, and this leads viewers to think about their loved ones and count their blessings,” explained Silvia Knobloch-Westerwick, lead author of the study and associate professor of communication at Ohio State University.

The key may be in the amount of time they spend thinking of their relationships as a result of watching the movie. The more time the better.

For people who only thought about themselves and how their life related to the story did not reap the benefits. No happiness bump for the self-centered.

For the study, people were asked to view an abridged version of the movie Atonement. The viewers were asked questions before, during and after the movie all related to their happiness levels. After the movie they were asked to rate how they enjoyed the movie and to reflect on their own lives, their goals and their relationships.

People who experienced the most sadness were more likely to write about real people with whom they shared intimate relationships. This then made them feel happier about their own lives and report more favorably their satisfaction with the fictional tragedy. People appear to count their blessings.

But they do not view themselves comparatively to the main characters. “Tragedies don't boost life happiness by making viewers think more about themselves. They appeal to people because they help them to appreciate their own relationships more,” explained Knobloch-Westerwick.

Source: MedicalNewsToday, Communication Research


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