It seems harmless: getting settled in for a night of
marathon session for a favorite TV show, like House
of Cards. But why do we binge-watch TV, and can it
really be harmless? A recent study by researchers at
the University of Texas at Austin found that the
more lonely and depressed you are, the more likely
you are to binge-watch.
Yoon Hi Sung, Eun Yeon Kang and Wei-Na Lee from the
University of Texas at Austin will present their
findings at the 65th Annual Conference of the
International Communication Association in San Juan,
Puerto Rico. The researchers conducted a survey on
316 18- to 29-year-olds on how often they watched
TV; how often they had feelings of loneliness,
depression and self-regulation deficiency; and
finally on how often they binge-watched TV.
They found that the more lonely and depressed the
study participants were, the more likely they were
to binge-watch TV, using this activity to move away
from negative feelings.
The findings also showed that those who lacked the
ability to control themselves were more likely to
binge-watch. These viewers were unable to stop
clicking "Next" even when they were aware that they
had other tasks to complete.
Little empirical research has been done on
binge-watching since it is such a new behavior.
Psychological factors such as loneliness, depression,
and self-regulation deficiency have been known as
important indicators of binge behavior in general.
For example, people engage in addictive behaviors to
temporarily forget the reality that involves
loneliness and depression. This study tried to
understand binge-watching behavior from this set of
"Even though some people argue that binge-watching
is a harmless addiction, findings from our study
suggest that binge-watching should no longer be
viewed this way," Sung said. "Physical fatigue and
problems such as obesity and other health problems
are related to binge-watching and they are a cause
for concern. When binge-watching becomes rampant,
viewers may start to neglect their work and their
relationships with others. Even though people know
they should not, they have difficulty resisting the
desire to watch episodes continuously. Our research
is a step toward exploring binge-watching as an
important media and social phenomenon."
For more information
Bad Habit for Your Health? An Exploration of
Psychological Factors for Binge-Watching Behavior,"
by Yoon Hi Sung, Eun Yeon Kang and Wei-Na Lee; to be
presented at the 65th Annual International
Communication Association Conference, San Juan,
Puerto Rico, 21-25 May 2015.