Wednesday, February 16, 2005

A New Spin on Not Watching Negative Television

Let's step away from the "watching violence incurs violence" arguement for just a moment and look at the benefits of watching positive television programming over negative;

This article is from a February 1, 2005 Univeristy of Michigan News Service article.

Positive emotions slash bias, help people see big picture details
Positive emotions like joy and humor help people "get the big picture," according to new University of Michigan research.

"Negative emotions create a tunnel vision," said U-M psychology researcher Kareem Johnson. "Negative emotions like fear or anger are useful for short-term survival when there's an immediate danger like being chased by a dangerous animal. Positive emotions like joy and happiness are for long-term survival and promote big picture thinking, make you more inclusive and notice more details, make you think in terms of 'us' instead of 'them.'"

Researchers asked a group of 89 students to watch a video either of a comic to induce joy and laughter, a horror video to induce anxiety, or a "neutral" video that would not effect emotions.
To simulate getting a quick glance of a stranger, scientists flashed photos of individuals for about a half second, finding subjects recognized members of their own race 75 percent of the time but only recognized members of another race 65 percent of the time, Johnson said. However, researchers found positive emotions boosted that recognition of cross-race faces about 10 to 20 percent, eliminating the gap.

Subjects who watched the comedy tested for having much higher positive emotions, while those who saw the horror video had far more "negative" emotions. Those in a positive mood had a far greater ability to recognize members of another race, while their ability to recognize members of their own race stayed the same.

The researchers conclude that positive emotions bring with them a "broadening effect" that helps people see a bigger, broader picture of the world around them.

The findings will appear in an upcoming issue of the journal Psychological Science.

No comments: