How do movies affect our emotions

Watching Movies for Your Mental Health I Psych Central

Watching movies can be beneficial for your mental health and serve as more than just a hobby or pastime.

Watching movies is an activity that has long been regarded as simply a pastime to enjoy when you have a free moment from life’s responsibilities.

While too much screen time can be harmful, engaging in hobbies that balance your work and professional life can be healthy.

Movies can provide several mental health benefits.

Boost mood

If you live with an anxiety disorder or depression, or you’re simply anxious and stressed about work and family commitments, taking time to watch a movie could help improve your mood.

A 2016 review found that enjoying leisure activities such as watching movies could boost mood and reduce symptoms of depression.


Pleasurable distractions and entertainment could provide rest and relaxation and replenishing qualities, according to a 2017 study.

Finding relaxation by watching a movie might be easier than it sounds. It might be a good idea to eliminate unnecessary distractions during the movie.

If you have trouble disconnecting from work or other daily stressors, consider leaving your phone and other devices in another room or on “do not disturb” mode so that you’re interrupted only for urgent matters.

You might find that you’re able to engage your mind with the plot you’re following without distractions, which could make for a more soothing experience.

A musical or romantic comedy, aka rom-com, could be just the distraction you need to relax after a long day.


Watching movies could be motivational in many ways.

Giving your mind a break from work for something enjoyable could motivate you to be more productive when you get back to it and to ward off feelings of burnout.

If the movie highlights someone successfully chasing their ambitions, it could motivate you to do the same. It might also inspire you to take up a new hobby or pursue a new goal, according to a 2020 study.

Improve relationships

If you’ve been feeling some level of disconnect between someone close to you — whether it’s your romantic partner, best friend, or child — watching movies together could be just the ticket to rekindle your relationship.

It could be especially helpful if you have the same taste in movies and choose something new that you’re both enthused about watching.

Not only will you bond in the moment of watching, but you might feel a renewed sense of connection when you discuss what you watched afterward.

Reduce stress

A good comedy could help lower your stress levels. A 2016 study found that laughter could reduce the levels of hormones in the body responsible for stress, such as cortisol and epinephrine.

If you’re not in the mood to laugh, consider a drama or tearjerker. Crying could also lower cortisol levels in the blood, according to a 2020 study.

Inspire social and cultural reflection

Watching films that take on tough topics could be a thought-provoking experience for you.

Whether you want to better understand a current social issue or spark a conversation about an opposing point of view, watching films could help educate and enlighten.

Aside from providing entertainment and a distraction from a stressful day, watching movies could also be a therapy technique.

Cinema and video therapy are sometimes used as a part of psychotherapy. Therapists might use this type of therapy to expose you to a character who might be having a similar emotional experience, according to a 2021 study.

It could also encourage you to look at your situation from a different perspective, providing new ways of coping.

A therapist might choose a commercial film or video (documentary) related to your challenges. If you’re having trouble in your romantic relationship, you might be instructed to watch a film with the same theme.

You might also be given therapeutic exercises to perform before, during, or after viewing.

The movie, genre, and the theme chosen will depend on your situation.

Engaging in activities you enjoy, such as watching movies, can be beneficial. It could boost your mental health, relieve stress, and foster relationships.

Still, movies aren’t a treatment or cure for your mental health symptoms. If your symptoms interfere with your daily life, a mental health professional could help.

They might be able to determine whether cinema therapy would work for you and your lifestyle.

Watching movies has psychological benefits, and here is all we know about it!

Most of us would agree that movies are a great conversation starter. We often resort to it when striking up a conversation with friends or even someone we have met recently. Movies are also a great to-go-to on a night-in with friends or alone. But did you know, movies are not just an entertainer, but also beneficial for our overall health?

Sounds off, right?

Since our childhood, we have been told, and science proves that excessive screentime is detrimental to our brain structure and impacts our cognitive abilities such as memory and focus. However, as it turns out, the same is not the case with movies. Some studies show that watching movies can make you more productive and help with your mental wellbeing. A study conducted by researchers at University College London and Vue Cinema found that people who watched movies experienced improved mental focus and fixation towards the movie. This focused watching (according to the study) helps to improve cognition and memory. Another study has also highlighted that liking trash films is linked to a high level of intellectual intelligence.

Keyvan Sarkhosh, a researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics, says, "to such viewers, trash films appear as an interesting and welcome deviation from the mainstream fare. We are dealing here with an audience with above-average education, which one could describe as 'cultural omnivores'. Such viewers are interested in a broad spectrum of art and media across the traditional boundaries of high and popular culture." Keyvan has conducted similar studies and found that people who watch horror movies have above-average intelligence.

Basis these studies, The Bridge Chronicle explored various other benefits of watching movies:

Watching movies makes you more empathetic and strengthen relationships:

Have you ever felt a character in a film was exactly like you or very similar to you? Maybe it is something about their personality or the portrayal of a character. However, this association also impacts individuals on an emotional level. Studies suggest that watching movies can increase our emotional intelligence and also help in improving social connectivity. A study conducted by psychologists at Oklahoma University studied the relation between fictional drama and emotions. For the purpose of the study, the subjects were divided into two groups. One group was shown fictional dramas or documentaries. While the other group was asked to either watch documentaries or nothing at all. These groups then underwent reading the eyes in the mind test. According to the results of the test, researchers found a consistency in the feelings of the participants who watched the fictional drama.

Movies can boost mood and improve mental health:

Imagine you have had a really hard day at work, and are trying hard to take your mind off a few things. But the problem is that your mind keeps going back to worrying about work. How do you fix it? Watch a movie or Netflix maybe? Psychological research and therapeutic practitioners verify that watching movies is one of the best ways to deal with anxiety or depression. Dr Noah Uhrig, a group leader of a study on similar lines says, "The cinema is a form of social participation with strong egalitarian properties. The costs of attending the cinema are less prohibitive than other forms of cultural consumption such as the symphony, the ballet or the opera. At the same time, cinema attendance is not a wholly low-brow activity as it is also an integral component of an omnivorous leisure portfolio, i.e., those that attend higher cultural activities also attend the cinema."

Sad films can make us happy: It is similar to the effect that sad songs have on our mood, they uplift us and make us feel lighter. Sad music resonates with our feelings helping us find an outlet for them. Similarly, sad movies help us find an outlet for our feelings hence making us feel less sad. However, there hasn't been any study on the same, but studies on the effect of sad music in uplifting moods in people help understand the phenomenon better.

Whether it is thriller, drama, horror or romance — whichever genre that you prefer, now there is proof that movies don't only entertain you but also help your mental wellbeing.

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How do films affect a person? | Psychology

People perceive watching movies as a way of entertainment, but few people seriously think about its effect on our brain, emotions and mood.

How do genres influence a person?


The best way to take your mind off problems and cheer yourself up is to watch a funny movie. It is when watching such films that a person releases the hormone of happiness - endorphin, which makes us laugh. nine0003

But comedies are not only a way to cheer yourself up. After all, endorphin protects a person from viruses and bacteria, that is, it helps the immune system. No wonder they say:

" The more you laugh, the longer you will live ".


The strong influence of horror on the psyche is recognized, therefore, for the majority, viewing restrictions have been introduced
Photo: Depositphotos

These films and serials do not distract people from problems, but on the contrary, make them think about everything unpleasant. Watching dramas, we think about what we did wrong, millions of thoughts arise in our heads, a person attaches great importance to even trifles. The essential difference between dramas and other genres is that a person unconsciously takes on the emotions of those characters that he likes or is at least a little like him. nine0003

If we have committed a bad deed, we begin to think about the similarity with the antihero, we try to justify our actions. Or vice versa, we condemn ourselves for what we have done, even for small sins. That is why a person is not recommended to watch dramas if he is fixated on some problem.


A controversial film genre, because for some people it's just a way to get an adrenaline rush, which in reality we don't have the courage to get. For others, horror is banned, they want to watch such films, but fear takes its toll. The strong influence of films of this genre on the psyche has long been recognized, therefore, viewing restrictions have been introduced for the majority. nine0003

How do movie characters influence a person?

Iron Man is a superhero

There are two types of perception of what is happening on the screen. In the first case, a person simply watches a movie, enjoying it, but realizing that this is just one of the ways of entertainment. That is, there is an influence, but it is so small that after the film we will forget about it very quickly. nine0003

In the second case, a person takes what is happening on the screen too seriously: he tries on the images of movie characters, tries to find similarities between what is happening on the screen and in life. In this case, the influence is huge, and serials are especially dangerous.

If we watched a film and soon forgot, then the series can go on for more than one month, and we will constantly think about the heroes, about their problems, unconsciously we will become these heroes. nine0003

Is it really that serious?

It all depends on the character of the person: some may perceive what is happening on the screen as a game, and the film as entertainment; others - to take everything seriously, trying on the images of heroes. It is difficult for a person to control his thoughts; when viewing the next masterpiece, they arise in the head on their own. It is difficult for a person to control his thoughts; when watching a movie, they arise on their own
Photo: Depositphotos

What to do?

It's okay if you take movies seriously when you watch them. But you need to try after its completion to accept the fact that cinema is just a game, in addition to it, there is your real life.

Tags: perception, movie influence, film genre, movie watching, movie heroes

how the viewer is psychologically affected

Cinema has firmly entered our lives and has remained there forever from the very first film. It doesn't matter if we liked it, and what it was like - we immediately got hooked on this emotional drug. Cinema unites people, evokes emotions, shapes consciousness and conveys the idea of ​​its creators. These and many other factors directly affect the psychological state of a person.

Character association

Of course, children, adolescents and people with unstable mentality are most susceptible to this phenomenon. Although what is already there - well, who did not feel omnipotent after watching a pretty action movie or another film adaptation from MARVEL? I think many here recognize themselves, although they do not admit it out loud.

Another question is what kind of characters they are and what philosophy they bring from the screens. It's no secret that a huge number of people sympathize with negative characters. There are many reasons for this and we will not consider them in detail now, the fact itself is important. You don't have to be a British scientist to draw a parallel between "I like it" and "I'll do it too." A huge number of behavioral habits that we notice in people around us are taken from movies. And this is not always a conscious choice, but a product of influence on the subconscious. nine0003

Do you think that this is all nonsense and only applies to children wearing a spider-man mask? Only this mask can easily be put on by an adult in order to rob a store or a cash-in-transit vehicle after watching the corresponding film.

Of course, it's foolish to blame cinema exclusively for this, but waves of robberies and murders often began after the release of a cult film or TV series. Recall the same “Brigade”, after which crowds of teenagers began to put together armed gangs and carry everything and everyone around. What to do, humanity in our century has become morally weak and emotionally vulnerable. nine0003

But not everything is so bad and gloomy. Cinema is primarily an art that often makes our world a better place and makes us think about important issues. It all depends on the director's intent and the audience that is able to understand it. Even an ordinary comedy can greatly help a person in difficult times, changing sadness into a smile, distracting a person from his problems. The main thing is not to fall out of real life, becoming more and more deeply imbued with the actions of the characters on the screen.


As mentioned above, cinema can bring people together. Sometimes it's not just an exchange of opinions or a heated argument after seeing a picture. People began to gather in interest groups regarding this or that work. The most striking example of this is the Tolkinists. Of course, everyone is free to spend their free time as they see fit, but sometimes such behavior leads to negative consequences. People from such subcultures sometimes become antisocial individuals with all the ensuing consequences. nine0003


It is because of them that we most often watch movies. We do not have enough positive - we turn on the comedy, we do not have enough thrills - we turn on the horror movie. The list of all kinds of emotions is as large as the list of genres in cinema. With the help of the film, we can regulate our mood ourselves, albeit not for a long time. Often this is a necessary discharge, which is so lacking.

Be that as it may, the psychological state of a person from watching a movie depends on the person himself.

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