The psychological benefits of watching popular films : a qualitative analysis / Juan van Wyk
The aim of this research was to explore the subjective psychological benefits of watching popular films. A secondary aim was to explore whether age, gender, frequency of watching popular films and different film genres play a role in the experience of psychological benefits. The research was an exploratory, qualitative survey. An availability sample consisting of 50 participants from a small university town in rural South Africa , took part. A self-compiled questionnaire was used. Thematic content analysis, according to the guidelines provided by Berg (1998), was applied as research method. The psychological benefits identified by the participants can be divided into four distinct themes namely: Learning experience, Personal growth, Affective benefits and Creativity. Learning experience was the most frequent psychological benefit participants noted and can be described as the stimulating effect popular films have on the participants' ideas, perspectives and knowledge. Personal growth implies the insight and change stimulated by the identification with characters in popular films. Affective benefits include relaxing, entertaining, and more intense emotional experiences. Creativity includes the stimulation of the participants' creative ideas and fantasy as well as the aesthetical appreciation of the beauty and art in films. These benefits concur to a large extent with what was found by another researcher. Furthermore, these benefits were related to a number of psychological well-being constructs. It seems that gender plays a role specifically in the quality of Affective- and Creative benefits. Age plays a role in benefits experienced, especially due to the difference in developmental needs. Frequency of watching popular films plays a role to the extent that a greater variety of psychological benefits were experienced by participants who watch films more often. Film genre also seems important, as participants experienced more benefits from watching Drama, comedy and Art films. The final conclusion is that watching popular films may contribute to the subjective experience of psychological well-being. The applicability of this in psychotherapy and in promoting psychological well-being on a broader scale will have to be investigated in further research.
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