How many times have you seen your favorite movie? If the mere-exposure effect holds up, you've likely watched it many times. This phenomenon is the tendency to like things more as you become more familiar with them, but only to a certain point. What drives us to rewatch movies, put songs we already know on repeat, or reread a good book? One reason is because, well, we like the movies, songs, and books we're re-consuming. But another reason is that we gain emotional comfort from these repeated viewings (or listenings, or readings).
According to a 2012 study by Cristel Antonia Russell and Sidney Levy published in the Journal of Consumer Research, rewatching our favorite movies is satisfyingly easy for our brains to process, which makes the experience calming. And because we already know the outcome, the predictability makes us feel safe in what can seem like an unpredictably scary world. The study also explains that people reconsume for a sense of nostalgia, which can be comforting to the point of actually making a person feel warm. Learn more about the mere-exposure effect in the video below.