It’s a common belief that you get along best with those who share your interests. And while I certainly see the basis for this assertion, I don’t think it always rings true—actually I know it doesn’t always ring true. In college, I studied multimedia journalism. I was a writer for a digital news platform, I was an editor for a student research journal, and I loved to read in my spare time. You’d think that I found my people among my fellow writers or among the editorial board of the research journal, but that wasn’t quite the case. My best friends were all science nerds, as I called them: they studied biochemistry and mechanical engineering, they wanted to become doctors and dedicate their lives to research, and even decorated their rooms with cell models and DNA posters. This is a pretty big difference, as our whole lives were based on completely opposite paths and professions. But I found that this difference didn’t really pose a problem to our friendships—another one did: our taste in movies.

A Direct Reflection

I prefer Romances and Dramas—it’s simply in my nature. I’m very in tact with my feelings and I love to experience the power behind them. So, it is certainly a direct reflection of my very inner self, but does it also have an effect on my health? Yes, the kinds of movies you watch can directly affect you. Here are five of those effects, explored:

1) They can improve your health.

Watching sad movies (like the ones I enjoy) can actually close off your brain’s access to anxiety. After watching a sad film, you’ll typically come away from it feeling happy about what you have and thinking about all of your loved ones. This proved true in a study which focused on the effects the movie Atonement had on a group of students; they claimed to be much happier with their lives directly after the viewing than they were before. Watching comedies can also improve your health, as they aid in lowering your blood pressure. Laughing significantly hard for as short as 15 minutes during a funny film can also have the same effect on your cardiovascular system as exercising. Great, another excuse to ditch the treadmill and watch a funny movie instead!

2) They can hurt your health.

On the contrary, watching scary or thrilling movies can hinder our health. When we watch an intense movie or show, our heart rate as well as our blood pressure increases. And while you may still think age and health is on your side, horror movies can affect you in ways you never considered: when you’re scared, your adrenaline goes through the roof. This can trigger repressed traumatic memories, since your body is mimicking how you felt during those unfortunate events. So if you have a significantly troubling past and don’t desire reliving it, it may be best to avoid movies like The Exorcist and The Shining.

3) They can make you more creative… or more aggressive.

On one hand, the movies you watch may make you more creative. For example, one study, which assessed young children after they watched a few scenes from Harry Potter, found that the kids scored much higher on a creative thinking test than others who were exposed to a different film. So watching movies or shows that involve magic or otherwise imaginative features may boost your levels of creativity. Now on the other hand, your movie choices may make you a more aggressive individual. This has been illustrated time and time again in experiments that involve exposing people to violence and then evaluating their consequent violent attitudes and behavior afterwards.

I still stand by my claim that emotional, thought-provoking movies reign greatest of all genres, but maybe I’ll work some more comedies into my life as well (just so I don’t have to go to the gym today).