Why Watching Simpsons Reruns Is Good For You

Studio 360

From New Hampshire Public Radio's Word of Mouth, hosted by Virginia Prescott

There's something comforting about diving into a Sunday afternoon Law and Order marathon or old episodes of The Simpsons. Now a study reveals that watching reruns doesn't only kill time, but it may also improve your self-control.

Jaye Derrick of the University of Buffalo has found that your impulse control is like the fuel in a gas tank --- it's a limited resource that gets used up. The longer you spend resisting, say, that piece of cake at the office party, the more likely you are to pig out at home. "The question then becomes, how do you replenish self control?" explains Pacific Standard science writer Tom Jacob. "Once it's depleted, how do you get it back? And [Derrick] found a surprising answer to that, which is watching reruns on television."

Derrick's team observed that study participants who were asked to describe their favorite television show before completing a difficult task (a word-generating test that required considerable concentration) performed better.

Read more about the study here and here.

"Getting into the world of their favorite TV show --- even for a couple minutes --- put them in a better mood and seems to have restored their self-control to its normal level," says Jacob.

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