Watching TV re-runs restores your personal drive
Watching a re-run of a favourite TV show may help restore your personal drive to get things done if you have used up your reserves of willpower or self-control, says a study.
"People have a limited pool of these valuable mental resources," explained Jaye Derrick, research scientist at the University of Buffalo's Research Institute on Addictions.
"When they use them on a task, they use up some of this limited resource. Therefore, they have less willpower and self-control for the next task. With enough time, these mental resources will return. However, there may be ways to more quickly restore them," Derrick was quoted as saying in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science.
One of these ways is to re-watch your favourite TV show, Derrick's research found. We find it comforting, mainly because we already know what the characters are going to say and do. All we have to do is sit back and enjoy it, according to a Buffalo statement.
"When you watch a favourite re-run, you typically don't have to use any effort to control what you are thinking, saying or doing. You are not exerting the mental energy required for self-control or willpower," Derrick explains.
"At the same time, you are enjoying your 'interaction', with the TV show's characters, and this activity restores your energy."
"The restorative effect I found is specific to re-watching favourite television shows (or re-watching favourite movies or re-reading favourite books)," Derrick said.
"Just watching whatever is on television does not provide the same benefit. And perhaps surprisingly, watching a new episode of a favourite television show for the first time does not provide the same benefit," added Derrick.
In fact, the effects of this fictional "social surrogacy" may work better than actual social interaction with real people under some circumstances.