The Notebook? Titanic? Steel Magnolias? Bambi? What do all of these movies have in common? They're all tearjerkers, and they—rather ironically—might actually make us feel happier after we see them. At least in the short term, according to new research out of the recent journal of Communication Research.
The study, which surveyed 361 college students as they watched a shortened version of the 2007 movie Atonement (which involves two lovers who are separated and die as war casualties), found that when people watched a tearjerker they began to think about their own close relationships. So the negative experience of watching a sad story, actually made people happier by bringing attention to some positive aspects in their own lives, according to ScienceDaily.
In fact, the more someone related to the movie and its characters, the more likely they were to reap the feel-good benefits. Researchers also tested the theory that people may feel happy after watching a tearjerker because they compare themselves to the characters portrayed and feel good that their own lives are not as bad. But that wasn't the case, the researchers noted.
This study is one of the first that looks at why we humans enjoy watching movies and hearing stories that involve tragedy or loss. It does support other research that suggests that negative moods make people more thoughtful and that relationships are one of the major source of happiness in our lives.
Do you feel happier after seeing a tearjerker? What's your favorite one?
Jennipher Walters is the CEO and co-founder of the healthy living websites FitBottomedGirls.com and FitBottomedMamas.com. A certified personal trainer, lifestyle and weight management coach and group exercise instructor, she also holds an MA in health journalism and regularly writes about all things fitness and wellness for various online publications.