Tv commercials

Opinion: TV commercials make you happier than you think

“And now it’s time for a commercial break.” Groaning at those dreaded words while watching A&E’s “Live Rescue,” I pull out my phone and play Geometry Dash to pass the time. The worst thing about watching television is commercial breaks.

They interrupt the show, talk about products I barely care about and just waste time.

“If we only had this on DVR, then I could skip these commercials,” I think to myself as the show finally returns after what feels like an hour.

When the pandemic started, I decided to take a course on Coursera called The Science of Wellbeing, taught by Yale University psychology professor Dr. Laurie Santos, as something to do in my spare time. . The course’s early lessons explored how material objects, such as phones, cars, and even college acceptances, only make us happy for a short time as we acclimate to them. However, going on vacation and visiting new places will make us happier.

“It turns out that if you can force yourself to have an interruption at the right times, stop it, and come back to it later, what you find is that you’re actually setting your baseline in a way very positive,” says Santos.

In a previous lesson, she set benchmarks with an example: In a race, the top three get gold, silver, and bronze medals. The person in first place has a gold medal and is delighted. The person in second place has a silver medal, but their reference point is that of first place; therefore, they are not as happy as they were about to win gold. The person in third place, however, is almost as happy as the first place; their benchmark is second place, and they got almost no medals at all.

Santos asked the question, “Could it be that ads, even really bad ads, are making us enjoy the program more? Using a graph from 2008 study conducted by Leif Nelson and Tom Meyvis on people’s level of happiness when listening to music and then pausing it shows a dramatic increase in the level of enjoyment once resumed.

I also noticed this while watching TV. “The Office” on Netflix is ​​one of my favorite shows, but after watching a few episodes, I get restless and my enjoyment of the show drastically diminishes. At times I wonder “When is this episode going to end?” But with live TV shows, I don’t think about that. Compared to watching “Spongebob Squarepants” on live TV, even though I’ve seen each episode multiple times, I can still enjoy the episode after every commercial break.

Nelson, Meyvis and Jeff Galak conducted a similar study in 2009 titled “Improving the TV Experience Through Commercial Interruptions”, this time using a sitcom, examining people’s happiness levels when watching the show. with interruptions versus without interruptions. Consumers who watched the show with interruptions liked it more.

“What happens over time as you watch [the show], it just gets boring,” Santos said. ” You are used to. You did this. But when you have the ads and come back from the commercial break, you get the kicker every time the ad comes back, and that means your overall enjoyment is higher. What does it mean? It means you should divide the awesome things you love the most in life [with interruptions].”

The abstract of Nelson’s study reads: “Although consumers do not expect it, their pleasure [of watching television] decreases over time. Commercial interruptions can disrupt this adaptation process and reinvigorate consumer enjoyment.

The study theorizes that there are four main reasons consumers choose to watch uninterrupted TV, including the consumer’s failure to recognize that they are acclimating to pleasurable experiences (and not wanting interruptions), consumers dislike and think negatively about interruptions, advertisements tend to be less appealing than the program, and such interruptions are not guaranteed to improve the program.

The study’s overview reads, “ad breaks may actually make TV programs more enjoyable, even though consumers strongly prefer to avoid ads.”

However, age plays a role in determining whether interruptions add to your experience. Nelson reports that as age increases, less adaptation to a program occurs. He found that in one of his studies, participants 35 and younger enjoyed the program more with interruptions, and participants 36 and older enjoyed the program with fewer interruptions.

I will be continuing the science of wellness over the next few weeks, but this is information that I found particularly interesting. I found it amazing how much commercials make watching TV more enjoyable, and we should savor the good experiences and separate them. It seems counter-intuitive that something most people don’t like – ads – is actually what makes us happy.