A new study shows that people stressed from work did not feel any more relaxed after they played video games or watched television. They often felt even worse.
Previous studies showed that people appeared to overcome their exhaustion faster if they played games or watched stimulating videos. The said recovery experience allows media consumers to supposedly detach themselves from the burdens of their everyday lives and enjoy feelings of fulfillment and control instead.
However, the new study suggests that games and videos might evoke feelings of failure and guilt for some people instead. The researchers explained why some people did not appear to benefit the said recovery experience. These people felt depressed, frustrated or guilty after playing video games or watching television.
"To get a better understanding of what ego depletion means, it is helpful to think of human willpower in terms of a 'muscle.' Whenever we have to use self-control to resist a temptation or to continue an unpleasant task, the strength of this 'muscle' is depleted," lead researcher Leonard Reinecke from Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz in Germany said.
For the study, the team asked 471 participants about how their previous day went about, how they felt after school or work and whether or not they watched TV or played games to relax to end their day. The researchers found that those who were tired after the day were more likely to say that they feel like they wasted their time on media. These people also felt guilty for watching TV or playing video games rather than doing something productive.
The study called "The Guilty Couch Potato: The Role of Ego Depletion in Reducing Recovery Through Media Use" explains "ego depletion" as a phenomenon when one's willpower is exhausted. A person who experiences ego depletion is more likely to be listless and tired, more impulsive and tempted to eat fatty foods to make himself or herself feel better. They feel guilty for partaking on video games or TV than art, social events or sports. They also label their media consumption as procrastination rather than entertainment or relaxation. The same goes for social media websites such as Twitter and Facebook.
The team said they hope the findings will result to solutions for people who need relaxation the most.