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Viewers' feelings about TV characters mimic real-life relationships, study shows

Posted at 12:22 PM, Mar 27, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-27 12:22:32-04

Nowadays, between streaming services, movies, and regular TV, viewers have dozens of shows that are easy to binge watch. It’s easy to feel invested in the characters of one’s favorite show. But a study by The Ohio State University shows that feeling of connectedness to fictional characters could actually mimic problems in real-life relationships.

More than 1,000 people participated in the study online, which examined their attachment issues and how they interacted with movies and TV shows.

The results showed that for people with relationship issues in their lives, like attachment issues, stories provided a “safe space” for them. These are your typical “needy” partners – they are more likely to be engaged in the fictional lives of the characters on screen, and think about what they would do if they were in the same situation as the people on the screen.

The study also showed those with the opposite problem in real-life relationship – those that are more removed and distant – are less likely to be engaged in a fictional relationship.

What the study did not show was whether vicariously living through fictional relationships could help real life relationships.

Researchers did say that it most likely takes some time away from those real life relationships if you're always glued to the TV screen.