The pause that refreshes

I’d love to see the same study done with movies, which are narratively stitched together so that they’ll work well uninterrupted. In that case the commercials might feel jarring, rather than palate-cleansing as they are between those tasty sitcom morsels. In any case, this would appear to be the same effect that allows fresh fruit in February (see this week’s Five Questions) to get in the way of our enjoyment of fresh fruit in season.

In a plot twist worthy of Lost, it turns out that TV commercials aren’t obnoxious interruptions after all. They’re helpful interruptions, which increase your enjoyment of TV by periodically reminding you how much you’d rather be watching your favorite show.

That’s according to a new study published in the Journal of Consumer Research, which found that commercials restore a sense of novelty to TV programming by breaking up the cycle which we become bored with following what’s on the screen.

In one of several experiments, the study’s authors screened the sitcom Taxi for two groups. One group saw an episode with commercial interruptions, and the other saw an episode with no interruptions. Those who saw Taxi with commercial breaks enjoyed it more, by a decisive margin.

Originally published at

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