The trend of marathon television viewing, or "binging", refers to watching 2-6 episodes in one sitting (Netflix, 2013), and this has become a popular phenomenon among youth and adults alike. Although there is limited research on this area, binge-watching has often been associated with loneliness, depression, and social anxiety (Brechan & Kvalem, 2015). A recent study by Tukachinsky and Eyal (2018) sought to explore whether certain personality traits would be associated with binging, and whether binging predicts how viewers engage with the characters and story in a TV show. Depression, loneliness, attachment style, and lack of self-regulation were assessed in a group of undergraduate communications students. In addition, story engagement, character identification, enjoyment, and parasocial relationships with characters were measured as aspects of how viewers interact with the content. In a second study, these personality and viewer involvement variables were compared based on either a marathon viewing experience or a traditional viewing experience (one episode per week).
Overall, these studies found that the relationship between depression and binge-watching was partly explained by a lack of self-control, confirming previous research on this topic (La Rose, Lin & Eastin, 2003). In addition, people without a secure attachment style were more likely to binge-watch than those who were securely attached. Surprisingly, loneliness was not linked to increased binge-watching, although it has been previously shown that binge-watching can foster social connections and a sense of community (Perks, 2015). This study also found that binging viewers often engage with the content in meaningful, reflective ways, and also develop parasocial relationships with their favourite TV characters, perhaps more so than during a traditional viewing experience. This research may help to alleviate some concerns that binge-watching TV is a dysfunctional and problematic behaviour.
Post by Sarah Skelding
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Brechan, I., & Kvalem, I. L. (2015). Relationship between body dissatisfaction and disordered eating: Mediating role of self-esteem and depression. Eating Behaviors, 17, 49–58. doi:10.1016/j.Eatbeh.2014.12.008
LaRose, R., Lin, C. A., & Eastin, M. S. (2003). Unregulated Internet usage: Addiction, habit, or deficient self-regulation? Media Psychology, 5, 225–253. doi:10.1207/S1532785XMEP0503_01
Netflix. (2013, December 13). Netflix declares binge watching is the new normal.
Retrieved from https://pr.netflix.com/WebClient/getNewsSummary.do?newsId=496
Perks, L. G. (2015). Media marathoning: Immersions in morality. New York, NY: Lexington Books.
Tukachinsky, R. & Eyal, K. (2018). The Psychology of Marathon Television Viewing: Antecedents and Viewer Involvement. Mass Communication and Society, 21, 275-295. doi: 10.1080 /15205436. 2017.1422765