Jennifer Aniston Confesses to Watching 'Friends' Reruns -- and Never Liking the Theme Song!
Why It's Okay to Watch Reruns
Next time you find yourself parked on the couch re-watching your favorite television show or movie, here's one reason not to feel so bad about it.
By Jaimie Dalessio Clayton
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If you love watching reruns of your favorite television shows, here's at least one reason not to shame yourself for spending time in front of the TV: Watching a favorite show or movie, or reading a favorite book again, can restore willpower and self-control, according to new research.
"Self-control is a limited resource," says Jaye L. Derrick, PhD, a researcher and professor at the University at Buffalo who led two studies reported in the journalSocial Psychological and Personality Science. Contrary to what many people think, she explains, self-control — be it to resist an afternoon snack or complete a project — is not necessarily an innate trait or disposition. The amount a person has fluctuates from day to day. "So if [people] do something effortful, they have less [willpower] left over to do other effortful things."
Previous research has shown that close relationships energize us in a way that helps restore willpower more quickly. Dr. Derrick, who enjoys watching reruns ofLaw & Order Special Victims Unit, hypothesized that, since people form pseudo relationships with their favorite TV characters, watching episodes of their favorite shows might have a similar willpower-restoring effect. In fact, she guessed it would work better. When was the last time you had to hold your tongue with a fictional character the way you might with a friend, family member or colleague?
Derrick's findings supported her theory. What surprised her, however, was that watchingnewepisodes of favorite shows didn't provide the same restorative benefit as reruns did. "It must be because watching a new episode you do mental acrobatics to figure out what's going to happen," she says. "But if you already know how it turns out, you can relax and enjoy without the effort."
"I'm hesitant to say this is a prescription, but I would say if you watch reruns it's not something to feel guilty about," Derrick says. "It can have some of these benefits."
So go forth and enjoy reruns. But remember, Derrick's findings are specific to re-watching episodes of your favorite shows, not just anything on TV.
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