Watching your troubles away: television viewing as a stimulus for subjective self-awareness

Pers Soc Psychol Bull. 2003 Jan;29(1):76-85. doi: 10.1177/0146167202238373.


Three studies explored the role of television viewing in eliciting subjective self-awareness and positive self-feelings. Study 1 assessed the effects of self-awareness manipulations via exposure to a neutral television program on actual-ideal discrepancies. Those who watched television showed significantly smaller self-discrepancies than those who did not, independent of mood. Study 2 demonstrated the ecological validity of this finding by replicating it with people watching television in their own homes. Study 3 investigated whether manipulations of self-feelings affected television watching. Results indicated that those who received failure feedback watched television longer than those in a control condition who likewise watched television longer than those who received success feedback. Television appears to be an effective stimulus to direct the focus away from oneself and to render people less aware of how they are falling short of their standards.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Affect
  • Awareness*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Self Concept*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Television*
  • Visual Perception*