A psychologist discusses the appeal of cheesy holiday movies to our brains.

A psychologist discusses the appeal of cheesy holiday movies to our brains.

What is the appeal of holiday movies?

What is the appeal of holiday movies?


It’s the time of year for companionship, loved ones, and corny salutations.holiday movies

Christmas classics

According to experts, holiday movies are a hit because they are readily available and often catered towards television audiences. Despite their potential for being cheesy and predictable, these films have a special appeal that keeps viewers coming back for more, according to Dr. Pamela Rutledge, a media psychologist and director of the Media Psychology Research Center.

“If the movie wasn’t a bit corny and expected, it would almost be disappointing because that’s what you’re looking for. You want to watch a feel-good movie,” she explains. “This reduces stress and reinforces feelings of hope and rejuvenation, which are all associated with Christmas.”

COVID pandemic. 

chronic stress

The brain of these individuals does not automatically return to normal. This heightened state of awareness causes them to expect danger rather than seek out positive experiences.

Include civil unrest, along withuncertain political climate and worrying current events

Given the current state of the world, it is not surprising that we are seeking ways to break away and immerse ourselves in something more whimsical and enchanting.

“Following a major trauma, individuals often experience heightened fear and seek out sources of comfort,” explains Rutledge. “While Hallmark movies may not offer solutions to global issues, they provide a sense of predictability and reassurance for the mind.”

Furthermore, the festive period can bring about stress, making these films a convenient choice for unwinding during a hectic time of year.

“According to Allen Eden, an associate professor of communications at Michigan State, these films can serve as a form of ‘cinema therapy,’ allowing viewers to unwind and reduce stress. These movies are easy to enjoy and do not contain any shocking twists or surprises. They are simply heartwarming, comforting films that can provide great support during this time of year.”

The peak of tension in many holiday films usually involves a comical and minor misunderstanding between the romantic leads, which is inevitably resolved by the conclusion.

Rutledge explains that the brain reacts to the entire experience by releasing dopamine, which is associated with feeling rewarded when things turn out as desired, as well as oxytocin, which is linked to feelings of warmth, connection, and love when discussing emotions. Essentially, it is a beneficial outcome for both aspects.

It may be challenging to discover a similar mutually beneficial situation in alternative forms of media. Although many individuals use social media as a means of escapism, it may not always provide the desired uplifting effect.

According to Rutledge, the challenge of social media is the uncertainty of what one may encounter. While it may bring joy, it also has the potential to trigger various insecurities.


Source: cbsnews.com