Folks who have trouble with romantic relationships may use movies and television as a way to experience what they have trouble with in real life. A new study suggests that those with attachment issues are more likely to be engaged in the stories of the media they consume. Meaning they feel more connected to the characters and think about they, the viewer, would do in the characters’ situations.
The results further suggest this provides a consequence free space in which to deal with relationships issues.
The study examined a little over one thousand Americans eighteen or older. It examined to facets of attachment in romantic relationships—avoidance an anxiety. Those who score high in avoidance tend to keep an emotional distance from their partners. Those who score high in anxiety are what we colloquially refer to as “needy”. In other words, they need constant validation their partner cares about them.
The participants also answered lots of questions about how they engage with the media they consume. Without much surprise, those who scored highly in avoidance, but low in anxiety felt very little connection to the characters and their problems. According to researchers, they treat the characters as they do people in their real lives. So then, those who scored high in anxiety were strongly connected to the stories and characters from their media consumption.
Most interesting were those that scored high in both avoidance and anxiety. They were the most absorbed with the stories and characters in the media they consumed. They made comments saying that the media helped them understand people they weren’t familiar with. That they imagined the outcomes of different choices the characters could have made. That they liked to imagine they new the characters personally.