“Haven’t you watched this episode already?” asked a friend intent on changing the channel. “Yes but I’d like to watch it again,” I respond. Truthfully, I could watch any one of my favorite movies or television shows over and over again. Recently, I learned that there might be a good reason for me to look forward to the mid-season and season finales of my favorite television shows. Watching reruns might help restore my willpower and self-control.
According to a recent article from the University at Buffalo, reruns might be more than just an escape. In two different studies conducted by Jaye Derrick, a research scientist at the University at Buffalo’s Institute on Addictions, subjects who watched reruns of their favorite shows found that they had obtained a mental boost to take on difficult tasks. Derrick explains that things like willpower and self-control are mental resources and they aren’t in constant supply. So, when you use your self-control to get something done and then, you need it again for doing the next item on your to-do list eventually your mental resources will run out like a dead battery. So, watching reruns can help you recharge your “battery” of willpower.
Another factor in the reason reruns are a fast way to restore your self-control is in the comfort of the artificial relationships that people form with the characters in their favorite shows. My “friend,” Patrick Jane (portrayed by Simon Baker) on “The Mentalist,” has shown me how to pick up subtle clues about people by observing them; my “professor,” Dr. Walter Bishop (portrayed by John Noble) on “Fringe,” has taught me the ways that science becomes part of a person’s mind, body and soul; and my “on-again, off-again boyfriend,” Neal Caffrey (portrayed by Matt Bomer) on “White Collar,” has trained me to never ever trust a man with a million-dollar smile.
Watching a rerun of your favorite show or movie is mindless because you don’t have to think about it, but it is recharging your mental resources. The mental pick-me-up could also help you take on a challenging project, like reorganizing your closet. Surprisingly, Derrick found that watching a new episode or a new movie doesn’t provide the same benefit. So the next time you feel as if you’ve lost your willpower or energy to take on a difficult task find a rerun of a favorite show or watch a favorite movie and you might find energy that you didn’t know you had.