Drama Increases Tolerance for Pain, Researchers Say

November 22, 2016

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. trigger / ˈtrɪg ər / (v.) – to cause to happen
Example: Emotional moves can trigger tears.

2. threshold / ˈθrɛʃ oʊld / (n.) – a level that must be exceeded for someone to feel something, such as pain
Example: Mothers have a high threshold for pain.

3. troubled / ˈtrʌb əld / (adj.) – characterized by having several problems or challenges
Example: The friends promised to stay together even through troubled times.

4. sedate / sɪˈdeɪt / (adj.) – not full of intense emotions
Example: I enjoy stories told at a sedate pace.

5. endurance / ɛnˈdʊər əns / (n.) – the ability to bear something unpleasant like pain for as long as possible
Example: You can measure someone’s endurance by looking at how long they can exercise.


Read the text below.
Research reveals that watching drama strengthens social bonds and triggers the body’s natural painkiller.

In a pioneer research about the effects of fictional works, a group of scientists and art scholars investigated how tragic fiction affects people. Results showed that watching sad movies has two significant effects—first, it strengthens social bonds, and second, it increases one’s pain threshold.

During the experiment, participants were divided into different groups and were assigned to watch either a movie or a documentary. One group watched a tragic movie about a homeless man with a troubled childhood, while the other watched two sedate documentaries about a London museum and Ireland.

Before and after watching the film, participants also answered a survey about how close they were with the people they watched the film with. They also took a physical endurance test, in which they had to maintain a sitting position against the wall, supporting themselves without a chair for as long as they could.

Survey results showed that participants who watched the tragic movie felt closer with the group they watched it with. Meanwhile, endurance test results revealed that participants endured the sitting position 18% longer after watching the tragic film. This is because their natural painkiller, endorphins, was triggered by the sad film.

Endorphins, also called happy hormones, are triggered by stress, fear, or pain. Endorphin release decreases pain, mitigates stress, and even enhances the body’s immune system. Other more common ways to trigger endorphins are exercise, laughter, and music. Spicy food is also known to produce endorphins because of the painful sensation caused by the food’s chemical compound.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         After reading about the study, would you like to watch drama more often? Why or why not?
·         What do you think are other types of movies that can strengthen social bonds? Why?

Discussion B

·         Do you think it is important to conduct research on movies? Why or why not?
·         What other forms of art can scientists study? Discuss.

November 22, 2016