Why can I remember every word to Bossy by Kelis (my 6th-grade song of choice), but I forget to switch my laundry on a weekly basis? I’ll tell you why. It’s all about the power of entertainment and its ability to play on our emotions and basically control our brains. I remember Bossy because it played at my best friend’s first boy/girl party. My crush was there and he thought I was cool for knowing all the words to the rap part. Boom. I connected emotionally the song, and now I’ll never forget it. There were no cute boys when I put my wash in the machine.
The Power of Entertainment
We remember emotionally-charged events better than normal boring ones, so logically, if we attach emotion to a piece of content, we’re more likely to hold on to the information. This is because the brain actually stores or encodes emotional sensory experiences differently than regular ones. Basically, we use the hippocampus and two parts of the amygdala to store memories and emotions. Research suggests that when we confront an event and need to store a memory that is emotionally-charged, these parts of the brain work together, reinforcing the memory and our ability to recall.
I'm so not ready.— Odeepink (@odeepink) January 10, 2018
All types of media can have this effect on the human brain. In fact, researchers at the University of Buffalo reported that people’s favorite television re-runs may actually have restorative powers for the brain. The University at Buffalo’s Research Institute on Addictions conducted multiple studies that found watching one of your favorite TV re-runs “may help restore the drive to get things done in people who have used up their reserves of willpower or self-control.”
Researchers found that the act of watching reruns “taps into the surrogate relationship people form with the characters in their favorite shows…they find it comforting, mainly because we already know what the characters are going to say and do. All [they] have to do is sit back and enjoy it.” Participants in the study were asked to complete a difficult puzzle after viewing a re-run and ended up performing better than they had previously to watching the show. See, this is why I never listen to the haters when I watch The Office for the 56th time. It’s restoring my brain, thank you.
The Importance of Entertainment
When you’re playing to peoples’ feelings, you have to consider the message you want to send. Take some time to decide on the tone of your entertainment and be cautious about the emotions you might elicit through your content. Whether it’s comedy, drama, or horror, if the tone works in favor of your brand, you’re on your way to creating an experience that will stay with your audience for years to come.
Editor’s note: This blog was originally published in 2013 and has been updated for accuracy and relevancy.
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