It seems to be a good time to stop feeling guilty for slouching in front of a television set and start chilling with tear-jerking drama. Researchers are claiming that watching a mushy movie might deliver to us more than simple entertainment. Experiments conducted by the Oxford University crew suggest that dramatic works enhance the production of cheerful chemicals, aka endorphins.
This finding supports and explains our attraction to such movies. Humans and storytelling are as interconnected as humans and speech. It is through stories that we, kids and adults alike, perceive the greatness of our ever-so-encompassing existence. Stories allow us to connect to a hero, through whose eyes we learn and experience.
According to Prof. Robin Dunbar of the Evolutionary Psychology Department of Oxford University, “fiction is widely studied by humanities academics as it is an important feature of human society, common to all cultures.” He continues, “yet the reasons why fiction can be so engrossing and the functions for this have not been widely studied by psychologists or behavioral biologists.” Watching drama not only improves our own feelings, it also enhances our connection to others, allowing a deeper bond.
A team of Oxford’s scientists, classicists and psychologists tested the influence of drama on the charge of chemicals that cause the brain to lessen pain. One study group watched a touching story about a homeless person with a distressed youngster. The other group watched plain documentaries regarding neutral issues. As stated later by Prof Dunbar, “those who had the greatest emotional response also had the greatest increase in pain threshold and the greater their sense of being bonded with their group.”
While it seems quite obvious that the endorphin effect happens with comedy, dancing and singing, when talking about drama, it might come as a surprise. After all, dramas are meant to make us weep. It has to do, however, with the releasing effect that tears have. After we’ve let them out, we feel better.
This research was a beautiful and rare collaboration of science and arts. Part of its aim was to understand what it means “to get lost in a book.” Endorphins are known to be natural painkillers. Dr Sophie Duncan states, “you can give yourself an endorphin high through fiction.”
That might explain why many people experiencing a sinking feeling because of a failed relationship or other events find it helpful to drown their sorrow in watching sad movies. Now we understand there is more to it than seeing someone else down in the dumps and feeling that you’re doing better than them. There is an actual chemical process in your body, supported by the mind’s perception, aimed at making you feel better.
Movie fans can rest assured they were always doing the right thing. And all the critics of the black box can eat their hats. Watching movies is good for you. It raises the endorphin levels in our body, makes us feel more bonded to the people around us and dulls any pain or negativity that we might carry. It is research-supported and doctor-recommended that you switch that LCD HD on and tune into your favorite drama or entertainment program.