It may seem counter-intuitive for tear-jerker movies to make people happy, but according to a new study, they actually could.

Silvia Knobloch-Westerwick, an associate professor of communication at Ohio State University in Columbus, and her colleagues had 361 college students watch an abbreviated version of ‘Atonement,’ a movie in which a couple is separated and later die during World War Two.

Before and after the film, the volunteers were asked questions that indicated how happy they were with their lives, and the researchers found that if the movie made students think about their loved ones, they were actually happier after watching the sad saga.

“Tragic stories often focus on themes of eternal love, and this leads viewers to think about their loved ones and count their blessings,” said Knobloch-Westerwick. “People seem to use tragedies as a way to reflect on the important relationships in their own life, to count their blessings. That can help explain why tragedies are so popular with audiences, despite the sadness they induce.”

[Health Day]