Having a movie night this weekend? You might want to consider breaking out the tissues to go with that popcorn and popping in something like Marley & Me or Titanic instead of that action flick or rom-com. That’s because having a good ol’ fashioned sob fest might actually be good for you.
According to an experiment done by Netherlands researchers, those who cried immediately after watching a sad film were left with a more negative mood 20 minutes later. Well thanks there, Captian Obvious. We could have told them that after watching The Fault in Our Stars, when we ate our feelings in free popcorn refills.
However, the study then went on to report the subjects’ moods actually increased in positivity 90 minutes later when they were recorded again. In fact, moods even increased to become more than the original baseline mood, which was recorded before the subjects watched the movies in the first place.
So what does all that sciencey stuff actually mean? Well, it could mean that watching a sad-as-all-heck movie like Schindler’s List will not only help you learn more about history while making you cry, it could actually help to alleviate your mood shortly thereafter too.
But before you go cuing up Romeo + Juliet, there’s a catch. (Isn’t there always a catch?) Turns out your mood could indeed improve after crying over a sad movie, but only if you’re the type of person who is already susceptible to cry at movies. Of the 60 people who participated in the experiment, only those who shed a tear eventually felt better than before. The remainder of subjects, who could have very well been made sad by the movies they watched but didn’t actually cry, experienced no mood elevation even after the fact.
Huh. Maybe there’s something to that old saying, “Let it all out” after all.
Want to conduct the experiment yourself? Go for the 1997 cry-fest that is Life is Beautiful and the 2009 flick Hachi: A Dog’s Tale. Those were the films used in this particular study.
Oh, and consider yourself warned: the experiment said nothing about other people’s reactions to your ugly cry face, so if you have one, these movies may be best watched alone. With your cat.