After watching a sad movie, people are happier about their own life, researchers at the Ohio State University report online in March in Communication Research. Almost 400 undergraduates (211 women, 150 men) viewed a segment of Atonement. Before and after the film the students completed a survey about happiness in their life and relationships. The participants felt happier afterward, the researchers found, because they reflected on their own relationships and thought about how much their loved ones enhanced their life—in effect, counting their blessings—not because they concluded that their life was better than those depicted in the film.
This article was originally published with the title "Why We Love Sad Movies" in SA Mind 23, 3, 7 (July 2012)