Emotionally Difficult Movies Help People Navigate Life, According to OSU Study

Watching meaningful, moving or emotionally stirring films can help people feel more prepared to deal with the challenges in life or even want to be a better person, this according to a new study from OSU.

The results of the study suggest one reason why we choose to see movies that run the gamut of emotions (happy to sad) and that explore difficult subjects that aren’t necessarily uplifting.

The findings point to one reason why people may choose to see movies that make them sad as well as happy and that may explore difficult subjects that aren’t always uplifting.

Researchers discovered that people associated positive reactions like being better able to accept the human condition or deal with life’s problems when watching a film like The Shawshank Redemption but reported these experiences less with films like Catch Me if You Can.

Meaningful movies, according to the study authors, help people cope with difficulties in their own lives and help them want to seek more significant goals.


New Research Questions the Correlation Between Facial Expressions and Emotions

When we interact with others it is typically a back and forth based and reading cues and responding back. Smiles mean happiness—we smile in return. We think a frown must mean the other person is sad, so we attempt to make them feel better.

We believe in facial expressions so much some businesses are developing tools to rate their customers’ satisfaction through these expressions.

However new research suggest that not only are facial expressions not a reliable indicator of inner emotion but that they are completely unreliable, and we should never trust a face to tell us what someone is feeling.

Their research question was ‘can we really detect emotion from facial articulation?’

The researchers’ conclusion? No. We cannot.

The researchers focused on creating computer programs that analyze facial expressions. This allowed them to analyze the kinetics of muscle movement in the human face and compared those movements with a person’s emotions. The researchers found that their attempts to detect or define emotions based on a subject’s facial articulations were almost always wrong.

Researchers drew further deductions. First, that context and cultural background make a huge difference when it comes to facial expressions. They deduced that not everyone who smiles is happy and likewise not everyone who is happy smiles. They even took the extreme opinion that most people who do not smile are experiencing an average level of happiness.

Researchers noted, no one walks around all day with a smile on their face even if they are having a great day and are experiencing happiness for the bulk of it.