Can Watching a Happy Film Increase Life Satisfaction?

By Brad Bell

You have decided to go see a comedy film.  After seeing the film, you reflect on your life.  You seem to have a higher opinion of your life after seeing the film.  Did the viewing of the comedy film increase your life satisfaction?   In one study (Forgas & Moyan, 1987), people in a control group were asked to complete a questionnaire before seeing a film.  Other people in the study were asked to complete the same questionnaire after seeing a film.  Some of the questions pertained to satisfaction with one’s social, private, and work lives.   On the average, life satisfaction was higher for people who completed the questionnaire after seeing a happy film than for the people who completed the questionnaire before seeing a film (control group).  Moreover, judgments of life satisfaction completed after watching a film were higher, on the average, for people who saw a happy film than for people who saw an aggressive film or a sad film. (1)  These findings may suggest that may be more beneficial to see happy films than aggressive or sad films.


1.  See their article for information on other findings.


Forgas, J. P., & Moylan, S. (1987).  After the movies:  Transient mood and social judgments.  Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 13, 467-477.