Study reveals the damaging impact watching the Kardashians is having on your life
The Kardashians are the pineapple pizza of celebrities - you either love them or hate them. But you can't deny that they built an empire, spinning a reality show and beauty products into a vast, billion dollar fortune. The 15th season of Keeping Up With The Kardashians premieres this Sunday, and fans are excited to see the dramatic feud between Kim and Kourtney. (Kim called Kourtney "the least exciting to look at" and Kourtney called Kim an "evil human being." So much drama!)
But you might want to think twice before tuning into another season of vapid socialites living the life of luxury. According to a new study, it could make you cold-hearted to the poor. Television shows like Keeping Up With The Kardashians glamorize fame and wealth. People tune in because they like the stars and want to vicariously live through them - or maybe they just want to make snarky jokes on Twitter. Regardless, watching materialistic media for just one minute can significantly increase anti-welfare sentiment, according to the London School of Economics.
Researchers reached these conclusions after analyzing the responses of 487 British adults aged 18-49. Here's how they conducted the study, according to their report published in Media Psychology:
"The treatment group was exposed to 4 adverts for luxury products, 4 tabloid photos of famous celebrities showing off expensive goods, and 4 newspaper headlines of rags to riches stories. The control group was exposed to neutral stimuli such as adverts about the London underground, images of natural scenery and newspaper headlines about dinosaurs. In total, each group was intermittently shown 12 separate images - each for 5 seconds."
Afterward, the participants were quizzed on their opinions regarding welfare and the poor. The results showed that exposure to materialistic media even for just 60 seconds had a significant effect. Then the participants were asked about their television viewing habits. Those who watched materialistic TV shows - such as Made In Chelsea, X-Factor, The Apprentice, Keeping Up With The Kardashians - were much more likely to hold "stronger materialistic and anti-welfare attitudes than lighter consumers of these shows." (They were probably also more likely to use the words "Bible," facts" and "Okurrr!")
"Humans are inherently materialistic but also very social and communal," wrote study author Dr Rodolfo Leyva. "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. This study can contribute to explanations for why the UK public’s support for welfare to aid the impoverished and unemployed has been decreasing."
Of course, this study was conducted in the UK, which has a different welfare system than the United States. However, Dr. Leyva told Newsweek he believes the results would hold up in America. "Particularly because the media environments are very similar, we view pretty much the same types of television shows. There’s a good chance that there would be similar findings if I were to run the study in the U.S."
In the comments to a Reddit about this topic, someone pointed out that the inverse might be true: Maybe people who don't care about the poor are more inclined to watch materialistic shows Keeping Up With The Kardashians. It's probably both.
Well, don't worry Kardashian fans: We're still living in the Golden Age of Television. If you give up the contrived reality shows, there's countless critically acclaimed scripted shows for you to check out. And as an added benefit, you might start caring about poor people!