Entertainment is an experience most sought after and enjoyed by all of us. But the question is; what is its psychological cause? Why do human society, across all cultures and periods enjoy and seek out entertainment? Why is entertainment so important? Why people from all spheres of life want to be entertained and find the experience so satisfying.
First of all, let us define entertainment. Entertainment can be defined as any activity, which allows people to entertain themselves in their spare time. Entertainment generally is passive, such as watching movie, T.V shows, live theatre, etc., etc. Active forms of entertainment such as sports are more often considered to be recreation. Actions such as book reading or playing musical instruments are regarded as hobbies. Various forms of entertainment are theatre, cinema, dance shows, social dance, parties, sports and games. Entertainment such as puppet shows, clowns, mimes and cartoons are likely to be attractive to children.
Human nature is an escapist nature. We need an escape from real life. We need to feed our fantasies. Entertainment takes us to an altered world of our liking and fulfils our want for fantasy and an escape from real life tedium. Entertainment transfers us to a world of fantasy, and we remain immersed as part of this alternate realism. This is especially true for media entertainment such as music, theatre and films.
Entertainment conditions our values, behaviour and thinking. This is especially true in case of media entertainment such as T.V and movies, which provide potent touching experiences. Our emotions powerfully influence our actions in ways that remain outside of our control and cognizance. Hence, it is very possible to be influenced by entertainment unconsciously. Humans are rational beings but emotions compel us to do things that are unreasonable. Enjoyment of entertainment switches us from the initial phases of interest to emotional connection and finally to addiction stage.
Entertainment triggers complicated psychological processes in the human brain. For example, a man may be in love with a girl, whom he cannot achieve in real life, so he may fall in love with an actress in a movie who may resemble his dream girl.
Let us take one more example. Nowadays, there is an increasing alarm over the effects of violence on T.V. So, what are the negative effects? Does this violence on TV lead to an increase in violence in the real world? Studies show that it is true. There is lots of evidence that the violence shown on TV increases the violent tendencies in children. These shows will not suddenly transform a peaceful child into a violent child, but it can make the violence-prone children more disposed to play out their natural tendencies.
By and large, entertainment elevates values we might not consciously approve, but which are, nevertheless, very important to us and call for mental stimulation. This doesn’t mean that entertainment is bad for human beings. We can surely benefit from a deep and clear understanding of how entertainment in real life, affects our experience and emotions.