Why Do We Watch Stressful TV?
We’ve all been there: hands over our open mouths in horror as we watch our favorite characters bite the dust on a TV show. Then comes the shouting at the television and the digging of our nails into the couch cushions as we wait for the next plot twist.
But why do we watch shows that upset us? Shouldn’t we want to avoid the emotions that would be far less pleasant to experience in real life?
Not necessarily, experts say.
“It is tantalizing,” said Robert Simmermon, a psychologist in Atlanta who specializes in media. “We’re always drawn to that fantasy.”
Psychologist Mary Gregerson, who runs Heartlandia Psychology, located in Kansas, Missouri and Virginia, said watching tragedy appeals to an ancient human nature. It’s called the catharsis hypothesis, but it’s not yet proven.
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