There you have it: watching the Kardashians makes you a bad person
Researchers warn that even 60 seconds of exposure to materialism is enough to significantly decrease how people feel towards those who are less fortunate
Watching reality television shows like Keeping up with the Kardashians and Made in Chelsea could make viewers cold hearted, with little empathy for the poor.
Researchers at the London School of Economics warn that even 60 seconds of exposure to materialism is enough to significantly decrease how people feel towards those who are less fortunate.
In the study, 487 adults, between the ages of 18 and 49, were asked about nine TV shows including The Apprentice, Keeping up with the Kardashians, X-Factor and Made in Chelsea.
The results showed those who regularly watched such shows are much more likely to hold “stronger materialistic and anti-welfare attitudes than lighter consumers of these shows”.They were also shown advertisements for luxury products, photos of celebrities showing off expensive goods, and newspaper headlines of rags-to-riches stories.
A control group was shown neutral images, such as adverts about the London Underground, natural scenery and headlines about dinosaurs.
Both groups were then asked about their views on wealth, success and government benefits for impoverished people.
Those who had been shown the materialistic pictures were significantly more likely to back anti-welfare policies, even if they only saw the adverts for one minute.“This suggests that just one intermittent minute of attention to common and typical materialistic media messages caused a significant increase in anti-welfare sentiments,” said Dr Rodolfo Leyva of the London School of Economics.
“Humans are inherently materialistic but also very social and communal. The way this is expressed depends on our culture. If there is more emphasis on materialism as a way to be happy, this makes us more inclined to be selfish and anti-social and therefore unsympathetic to people less fortunate.”Johannesburg psychologist Dr Ingrid Artus believes “that our experiences and exposure can possibly contribute to the formation and internalisation of values.
“The accumulation of wealth and the wealthy are glorified in these shows, impressing the notion that our inherent worth is linked to what we have, rather than who we are.
“This follows that the lack of wealth becomes something to be despised and frowned upon, which is essentially another value.
“The other element that could play a role here is the concept of association. Some people perceive their own personal value as being linked to those they hang out with. In this instance, such persons would seek out those they regard as wealthy or famous and avoid those regarded as less fortunate,” said Artus.