Can some movies change your life? May be


By Cara Murez
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, May 14, 2021 (HealthDay News) – A good movie can be more than just entertainment – it can also help you feel more prepared to face life’s challenges and be a better person, suggests a new study.

This may be why people sometimes choose films with difficult themes or make them sad, researchers say.

“Significant films help people cope with the hardships of their own lives and help them achieve more meaningful goals,” said lead author Jared Ott, a graduate student in communication at State University of Ohio and Columbus.

Many studies have examined how people react to movies or movie clips in a lab, said co-author Michael Slater, a communications professor. This one was designed to see how movies affect people in the real world.

“We wanted to find out how people live these movies in their daily lives,” Slater said.

For the study, researchers created two lists of 20 Hollywood films made after 1985 that had garnered high viewer ratings.


One contained films such as “Hotel Rwanda”, “Schindler’s List” and “Slumdog Millionaire”, which the IMDb movie site described as poignant, inspiring or significant.

Other films include what the researchers described as “less significant” rates, such as “Ratatouille,” “Fight Club,” and “Pulp Fiction.”

About 1,100 adults were recruited online to receive one list or the other and then report on what movies they had seen. They were then asked to complete a survey on one of these films, which the researchers randomly selected.

People who remembered a meaningful film were more likely than others to say that the film helped them understand life’s difficulties. The researchers said the significant films also helped viewers accept the human condition.

Participants who remembered meaningful films were also more likely to say that the film motivated them to be a better person, to do good things for other people, and to look for what really matters in life.

The key elements of these films were their intensity, the mixture of happiness and sadness, their emotional reach, and their ability to make people feel elevated and inspired by looking at them.


The researchers said it was still possible to find meaning even in the fare that wanted to be more entertaining than inspiring.

Participants were asked to select and rate the importance of three values ​​from a list of 16 they saw represented in their film, including “success and personal success,” “love, and intimacy“and” courage and bravery. “

“We found that people felt more able to make sense of the hardships of their own lives when they remembered a film that focused on values ​​that were important to them,” Slater said. “This happened even when the film was rated as one of the least significant films.”

The findings were recently published online in the journal Mass communication and society.

Ott said the findings suggest why some people consider movies more than entertainment.

“Some movies can help people cope and grow in difficult times in their lives,” he said. “And people can recognize that effect years after they’ve seen a particular movie.”

More information


The newspaper Nature has more research on movies and psychology.

SOURCE: Ohio State University, press release, May 12, 2021

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