Yes, certain kinds of reality TV actually make you a worse person, according to a new study from the London School of Economics. Even if you only watch “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” for one minute, this can have a negative effect on your ability to have compassion for the less fortunate.
The research says that exposure to media that is “materialistic” and that shows glamor, fame, luxury and the accumulation of wealth in a positive light can cause people to develop materialism as well as anti-welfare leanings.
The study involved nearly 500 adults, divided into two groups, and exposed to two types of media. One group was given “neutral images” such as scenes in nature, or public transport, etc., while the other group viewed pictures of wealthy celebrities and advertisements for luxury items.
The results showed that minimal exposure to media that is materialistic already impacted people in terms of influencing them toward anti-welfare attitudes.
A survey which was part of the research also found that people who regularly watched materialistic media like Keeping Up With the Kardashians displayed more pronounced anti-welfare and materialistic attitudes than those who were exposed to these shows more rarely.
Dr. Rodolfo Leyva from LSE’s Department of Media and Communications department headed the study. He said, “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.”