Hugh Pickens writes writes: "Do you chide yourself for wasting time in front of the television, watching reruns of Law and Order? Tom Jacobs writes that spending time with Lenny Briscoe, Olivia Benson, and Jack McCoy may be good for you as a new study by psychologist Jaye Derrick of the University of Buffalo’s Research Institute on Addictions reports that immersion in a “familiar fictional world” can help us recover the all-important ability to resist temptation. The research grows out of the theory that impulse control is a limited resource as numerous experiments show that people who are forced to exercise self-discipline are more likely to give into temptation later on. Interacting with friends and family is one way to replentish self-affirmation, but some people seek an alternative to social interaction and that spending time with your virtual friends on Sex and the City, or, well, Friends, a relationship known as “social surrogacy,” can do us good and that even just thinking about the shows "buffered subjects against drops in self-esteem, increases in negative mood and feelings of rejection." While Derrick concedes that spending time in front of the tube may not be the optimal way to rejuvenate ourselves—physical exercise can also lift mood—her results suggests it’s unfair to think of television viewing as a waste of time. “Media use can have unexpected psychological benefits,” Derrick concludes. “Television, movies and books can be more than leisure activities; in some cases, they fulfill needs, like restoring self-control, that people are reluctant or unable to fulfill through other means.”"
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