According to The Daily Mail, an Ohio State study recently published in the journal Psychology Of Popular Media Culture says that people who watch a lot of reality TV shows are more likely to have narcissistic tendencies. The study doesn’t say whether reality TV makes people narcissistic or if narcissistic people are drawn to reality TV, but one of the researchers suspects that it’s “probably somewhere in the middle.” He suggests that narcissistic people could be “seeking out” TV personalities similar to their own, or people on TV could simply be making narcissism look like “normalized behavior,”causing viewers to act more narcissistic.
The study was conducted with a survey that asked participants what kind of TV genres they watch—including action, comedy, reality, sports, and news broadcasts—and then had them complete a standard questionnaire used to gauge how narcissistic someone is. In addition to the reality TV thing, the study also determined that people who watch “sporting events, thrillers, and political talk shows” also tend to be more narcissistic. People who watch the news, though, tend to be less narcissistic.
Of course, as with any study like this, it’s just as important to look at the sample size and other details as it is to look at the results. In this case, the only people surveyed were 565 college students, and the Daily Mail article doesn’t even point out if these 565 student went to different colleges. So, if you wanted to spoil the fun of pointing out that Keeping Up With The Kardashians fans tend to be more narcissistic, you could point out that the study only says Keeping Up With The Kardashians fans who also go to college (and possibly only Ohio State) are more likely to be narcissistic, and even then it’s really only if they’re among the 565 people surveyed. The results could end up being the same if the sample were expanded to be more representative of all people who watch TV, but even the people behind this study acknowledge that “it is possible that a sample of older people would yield different results.”
So what did we learn in all of this? Something, certainly.