It's clear that commercials are the one thing we universally hate about our TV- and movie-watching experiences. After all, multimillion-dollar companies have based their entire bottom line on creating technologies that allow us to enjoy our entertainment commercial-free. But multiple studies have shown that commercial interruptions not only do not detract from our enjoyment of our favorite shows -- they occasionally make us enjoy certain media more.
"Wow, this is tolerable."
In each study, groups of participants were shown commercial-free and commercialized versions of TV shows, and in every case, participants enjoyed the shows more when they were interrupted by commercials. In fact, one study found that when shown a nature documentary, participants not only enjoyed it more with commercial interruptions, but were also more willing to donate money to a nature charity. Where it gets really interesting is that the phenomenon isn't limited to movies and TV, but extends to any enjoyable experience. For example, one study found that participants enjoyed a massage more when it was interrupted in the middle -- presumably via a clown face popping up halfway through and screaming "HE WAS DEAD THE WHOLE TIME HUHUHUH!!!"
So how is it that something we're all convinced we hate is actually heightening our enjoyment? Researchers propose that, as with any experience, we adapt to it over time. Our first kiss is freaking fireworks; the tenth one's, like, maybe a firecracker; the hundredth one's pretty OK, but it's no burrito, you know? We'll kiss later; we're kinda hungry. So as we watch an hour-long TV show, our enjoyment of it lessens because we adapt to the experience over the show's run time. But breaking the experience up with commercials interrupts that adaptation process -- so each time the show comes back from a break, we're able to continue experiencing it with that higher level of enjoyment.
Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images
"After an hour of the Home Shopping Network, I'm excited for Two and a Half Men."
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Jason is a freelance editor for this fine website, Cracked.com. Liking him on Facebook is currently at 100 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.
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