While I was binging away the best years of my life in front of the comforting glow of a television screen -- watching Mad Men, Breaking Bad, and slipping in the occasional Kardashian highlight -- I knew deep down inside, I wasn't wasting my time. I just felt that somehow, what I was doing was making me a better person... despite what my parents/girlfriends/psychologists told me.
Today, I have sweet, sweet, validation. Suck it, Dr. Frankel.
A new study published last week in Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts showed that watching television, particularly "high quality dramas" like Mad Men and the West Wing can increase emotional intelligence -- basically, you become a more understanding, more empathetic person.
The study observed 100 test subjects (humans, just to be clear) and several tests to gauge television's influence on emotional intelligence. One group watched only the high quality, fictional dramas, and another watched non-fiction shows (like Shark Week). In these tests, subjects who watched scripted fictional shows scored higher when determining what emotions 36 pairs of isolated eyes were feeling. In another test, a control group was added of people who watched no television prior to the test. While the group that watched the high-quality, scripted dramas still had the highest scores, the non-fiction watchers still scored higher than those who hadn't watched anything at all.
While this is just a single test, and previous, similar studies regarding emotional intelligence and reading fiction have their inconsistencies, I firmly believe that television has made me a better person. Levar Burton taught me how to read, The Bachelorette taught me how to love, The Wire taught me about the inequality and injustice in our judicial system, and of course, the Kardashians taught me that it doesn't matter how horrible you are, as long as you are rich, tan, and good looking.
Thanks television! See you when I get home.
Wil Fulton is a Staff Writer for Thrillist. He forgot to mention Hey Arnold. Follow him @wilfulton
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