Need Will Power? Watch TV Re-Runs.
Couch potatoes, rejoice! Trying to stick to a healthy eating regimen? Kick the nicotine habit? Cut back on drinking? The key to accomplishing these goals may be as simple as settling down to watch re-runs of your favorite old TV shows. This unlikely finding comes from a study done at the University of Buffalo, New York and published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science. Of course, you still need to get up off the couch and do some exercise, but at least the time you spend ogling the tube has now been (apparently) vindicated.
Lead author Jaye Derrick, PhD and colleagues wrote: "Enacting effortful self-control depletes a finite resource, leaving less self-control available for subsequent effortful tasks. Positive social interaction can restore self-control, but hurtful or effortful social interaction depletes self-control. Given this conflict, people might seek an alternative to social interaction to restore self-control. The current research examines social surrogate restoration—the possibility that people seek a social surrogate when depleted, and that seeking social surrogacy restores self-control."
Translation: The characters you knew and loved in TV shows gone by can be your "social surrogates." As the authors further put it, "immersion in this familiar fictional world restores self-control. Supplementary analyses suggest that it is the social nature of this familiar fictional world that contributes to restoration."
Okaay! Not what we expected to learn here at ThirdAge at the start of the week, but why not give it a try? The next time you feel tempted to blow your diet or reach for a cigarette, tune in to "Seinfeld" or even "I Love Lucy" and see if the urge passes. Good luck!