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Watching Reality TV Is Linked to High Rates of Narcissism

The more you watch the Kardashians, the more likely you are to turn into them.

The more you watch the Kardashians, the more likely you are to turn into them, finds a new study published in the journal Psychology of Popular Media Culture. A group of Ohio State University researchers compared the television viewing habits and personalities of almost 600 men and women, and discovered a link between high levels of narcissism and predilections for reality TV. The study was unable to determine whether reality-based programs promoted narcissistic behavior or just attracted narcissistic viewers.

“I suspect the truth is probably somewhere in the middle—some people with narcissistic tendencies are seeking out media characters similar to themselves, whereas others who watch reality TV see narcissism as normalized behavior and begin acting more narcissistic,” researcher Ted Dickinson said.

Participants were asked about the TV genres they watch most often, and then provided a standard narcissism questionnaire to fill out. Those who most frequently watched reality television, sporting events, thrillers, or political talk shows ranked highest on the narcissism scale, while those with a preference for news broadcasts actually earned negative scores.

The researchers write, “One possible explanation for this finding is that individuals who pay attention to the news are also more civically engaged and less individualistic.”

While these findings may be fun to shove in the faces of people who indulge in the reality TV craze, they should be taken with a grain of salt. The survey subjects were all college students and, hence, not representative of everyone who watches TV.

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