If you wait for the weekend to watch multiple episodes of the popular Netflix shows that portray violence, chances are you may see the world as meaner than it really is – a phenomenon known as “mean world syndrome”, suggests new research.
For the study, the researchers from Boston University College of Communication looked at five most commonly binge-watched online TV series – all of which were Netflix original shows: House of Cards, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Marco Polo, Bloodline and Daredevil.
They catalogued the instances of violence in each show, including frequency, nature, justification, and perpetrator and target characteristics. The researchers found violence in the top-streamed shows was very prevalent, graphic and intentional.
Binge-watching has been defined as watching three or more episodes of a TV show in one sitting.
To see what effects, if any, watching these shows had on frequent viewers, BU College of Communication researchers Sarah Krongard and Mina Tsay-Vogel surveyed 366 undergraduate students who participated in the study.
When they examined the survey results, the researchers found that the more hours spent watching these online original series, the more likely it was that the viewer saw the world as a mean and scary place. The results were published in the journal Psychology of Popular Media Culture.
“Try to engage critically with what you’re watching. Try to think about: Who made this? Why? What is the purpose?” Krongard suggested.