Research confirms some TV shows are contributing to people’s narcissism: a link exists between reality television shows and the tendency to have more narcissistic personality traits. The Ohio State University research says reality shows are more likely to be narcissistic jerks.
Narcissism, which is characterized by extreme egocentricity, pride, and an excessive thirst of using others to meet one’s own needs; is said to be rampant among those who have higher levels of daily TV exposure.
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, Ted Dickinson, a study co-author, cautions.
The researchers asked 565 students (whose personalities and viewing abilities were assessed, according to PsyBlog) to take note of which TV genres they were watching. The standard Narcissistic Personality Inventory (a-40-item questionnaire used by psychologists to measure subclinical narcissism) was also used to gather information from the study participants.
In addition to reality TV, researchers also found evidence that narcissistic viewers are interested in watching thrillers, sports and political talk shows.
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The study’s author suggested what they think could be the reason for the surprising link between narcissism and the TV shows:
Many of the messages to which we are exposed on the TV today feature rampant self-interest, disregard of others’ well-being, and a focus on the individual above all else, which are all components of narcissism.
Our research suggests that those messages may in turn be cultivating narcissism in society.
Lull, Robert B.; Dickinson, Ted M. Does Television Cultivate Narcissism? Relationships Between Television Exposure, Preferences for Specific Genres, and Subclinical Narcissism. Published in in the journal Psychology of Popular Media Culture