It turns out that being a couch potato might not be such a bad thing after all.
According to a recent study in Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, research has shown that watching high-quality TV dramas like The West Wing or Mad Men can increase our emotional intelligence and make us more empathetic people. That sounds like a good deal, right?
To test their theory, the study’s psychologists divided 100 people into two groups, one that viewed high-quality dramas and another that viewed non-fiction shows. The subjects were then presented with photos of 36 pairs of eyes and asked to judge the emotion of each. Results showed that the high-quality drama viewers performed better on the test than their non-fiction-viewing counterparts by guessing more of the emotions correctly.
A follow-up experiment showed the high-quality drama viewers also scored higher than a control group, who didn’t watch any TV before the eye test. Interesting.
The study’s conclusion — put in the most basic of ways — is that the fictional situations in the dramas we watch force us to become more empathetic, since we have to ponder about the characters’ problems from multiple perspectives. We also have to mentally fill in the gaps of their inner lives and emotions because they’re not explicitly presented to us on screen. Pretty neat, eh?
So in the spirit of
having an excuse to binge watch TV discovering the empathetic benefits of binge-watching quality television, here are some shows that could help enhance various sectors of your emotional intelligence.
Increased Emotional Intelligence: Relating to your siblings
Our siblings can be very different than we are. They have different personalities, preferences and vices, and they can be difficult to relate to. That’s definitely the case for Orphan Black’s Sarah Manning and her four clone sisters. Watching how Sarah learns to understand and relate to each of her siblings on the show could very well increase your patience and desire to understand your own.
The West Wing
Increased Emotional Intelligence: Sympathizing with our political leaders, identifying with colleagues
Running cities, provinces and countries is a highly stressful job. This is, of course, showcased by President Jed Bartlet and his staff on The West Wing. By watching the trials and tribulations faced by the White House staff in reruns of the show, perhaps you can better understand what our political leaders are faced with daily, and better sympathize with the their enormous responsibilities. Not to mention all the things we can learn about dealing with our co-workers. They’re people too!
Increased Emotional Intelligence: Understanding others’ lifestyle choices
We all have different ideas of what love and true happiness is. For some people, it’s having three spouses, nine kids and three homes, like Bill Henrickson on Big Love. Watching this show could help you understand others’ sources of happiness, even though they’ve decided to live a little differently than you do.
Increased Emotional Intelligence: Understanding complicated relationships
Sometimes we don’t understand why our friends stay stuck in the terrible relationships that they’re in. Perhaps by watching earlier seasons of Homeland and witnessing the unlikely connection between Carrie and Nick, you can better understand the rough situation that your pals find themselves in. Maybe you can start lending them some extra comfort.
Increased Emotional Intelligence: Family appreciation
Families can be complicated. Just look at Ray Donovan’s. By watching all of the hell Ray goes through in dealing with his troublesome father and brothers while trying to protect his wife and kids, maybe you will start to appreciate your family a little more and ignore the things that get under your skin.
You can increase your emotional intelligence by watching all of these shows (and more!) right now on CraveTV.