A Good Story

A good story needs conflict, inner and external of course. If we watch a movie or video rather than read the story, the conflict is usually heightened because it has to build and be resolved in a short time. In sitcoms there is about 25 minutes minus the adverts to get us worked up, relieved and primed to want to watch the next episode.

Our kids are often watching specially designed programs for them while we rush about getting food, sorting stuff out for tomorrow or simply relaxing, but Mares et al have checked out how such programs can effect the expectations of our kids (1). They selected a group of tweens (11±3 years old) and subjected them to a couple of episodes of a sitcom based on school life.

Of course, there were two sitcoms, one friendly with low conflict, while the other was full of fierce conflict, bullying and heavy stuff requiring resolution. So what do you think was the result? You’re quite correct – those who watched the episodes with lots of conflict and bullying had become distinctly worried about moving up to high school when asked. In contrast, the happier episode watchers were much happier at the prospect.

I’m rather surprised that we didn’t know this already as we have had lots of evidence of how short TV adverts designed to be scary have played a huge part in elections for a few years now so people have made strange decisions once in the voting booth.

  1. M-L. Mares, M.T. Braun and P. Hernandez, J Media Pyschol. 15, 121, (2012).

Leave a Reply