Suppression of Disbelief

Practical Applications.

4/21/20233 min read

the walking dead dvd movie
the walking dead dvd movie

I come to find myself reflecting on why I enjoy immersing myself in action movies, only to later pick them apart and criticize their unrealistic portrayals.

While I can understand giving science fiction films the benefit of the doubt, since they often take place in a distant future or alternate reality, I find it hard to reconcile the over-the-top action sequences in other films with my own common sense.

I can't help but wonder why I don't find them repulsive in the moment, particularly when I witness scenes like Rambo single-handedly taking out heavily armed terrorists without so much as a scratch.

Enter "Suppression of Disbelief".

Coined by coined by Samuel Taylor Coleridge in 1817 with the publication of his Biographia literaria, suspension of disbelief refers to the ability of an audience to accept the fictional elements of a story as real or plausible, despite knowing that they are not true in real life.

It is the temporary acceptance of the unbelievable or impossible, in order to fully engage with a work of fiction, whether it be a movie, book, or play.

For example, in a fantasy novel, readers may need to accept the presence of magic or mythical creatures. In an action flick, audience may accept that the protagonist will never die due to plot armor.

In both cases, the audience acknowledges that what they are seeing or reading is not real, but they are willing to overlook that fact in order to enjoy the story.

Suspend your need to gain something from others. Or whatever negative belief you have about people and just do the good.

Everyday Life Application:

Enhancing creativity: When writers, artists, or storytellers apply suspension of disbelief, they can let their imagination run free without worrying about the constraints of reality. This allows them to create truly unique and original works that inspire others and spark creativity.

Encouraging empathy: Stories that require suspension of disbelief often involve characters facing difficult challenges, overcoming adversity, and achieving great things. By immersing themselves in these stories, audiences can develop a deeper sense of empathy and understanding for others who face similar challenges in real life. Imagining yourself in their shoes.

Building a sense of community: When people come together to enjoy a work of fiction that requires suspension of disbelief, it can create a shared experience that fosters a sense of community and belonging. This can be particularly powerful in settings like book clubs, movie theaters, or other group gatherings.

Promoting a sense of wonder: Fictional stories often involve fantastical elements that can inspire a sense of wonder and awe in audiences. By suspending their disbelief, viewers or readers can fully appreciate and enjoy these imaginative worlds.

Encouraging exploration and discovery: Stories that require suspension of disbelief can encourage people to explore new ideas, concepts, and perspectives that they may not have considered efore.

Providing an escape from reality: Sometimes people need a break from the stresses and challenges of everyday life. Fictional stories that require suspension of disbelief can provide a temporary escape into a world of imagination and fantasy.

Fostering a sense of hope: Even in the face of impossible odds, fictional characters often persevere and achieve great things. By engaging with these stories, audiences can develop a sense of hope and optimism for their own lives.

Not All Sunshine And Rainbows:

While suspension of disbelief can certainly enhance our enjoyment of a work of fiction, it's important to remember that it can also have negative effects on our attitudes and behaviors if we become too absorbed in the story.

Especially in our current era where reality and virtual are getting more and more meshed with the emergent of metaverse.

For example, one study published in the journal "Psychology of Popular Media Culture" found that individuals who were highly immersed in violent video games tended to be more aggressive and had reduced empathy compared to those who were less immersed.

Another study published in the journal "Communication Research" found similar results, suggesting that too much immersion in media can lead to negative outcomes.


While it is great to suppress your disbelief to further appreciate certain things, don't be so immerse that you lose your reality and sense of what it takes being human.

Till next time.