Since the 1990’s reality television has become a mainstay in American TV viewership. Competition shows, docu dramas, and lifestyle shows have altered the concept of television star.
Through reality television we have been introduced to the Kardashian’s, Bellas, and Jenner’s. Families we view on tv give us new villains and heroes to jeer and cheer. They serve as role models or persons to envy.
When do we find that reality tv viewing becomes a problem?
Social comparison theory, as proposed by psychologist Leon Festinger, states that humans have a need to evaluate themselves in comparison to others. Self judgements can be created in relation to others we view.
Reality TV programs give viewers a glimpse into the lives of other people. The talent on these shows live in different areas that are often lavish in comparison to the average Americans daily life. The story lines provide remarkably over the top almost unbelievable scenarios that most will never encounter.
Social comparison theory explains why we are drawn to these types of programs. In a way these programs can be means to live out fantasies or escape realities. Festinger meant for his theory to show that the comparisons were supposed to serve as benchmarks for evaluating. However, there are times when these evaluations can become negative and cause harm.
How to Tell When You Are Addicted to Reality TV
- Everyday Life Becomes a Search for Drama
Reality shows are often little on the “reality.” Although the cast members are real people keep in mind they are being paid to film. The television show are these people brand and sources of income. Ordinary people do not behave how most of our favorite reality stars do. When you begin to search out dram in your life then take time to recall you are not on camera, but your actions have consequences.
- Unrealistic expectations of appearance occur
Social media stars and reality talent often can cause people to develop unrealistic expectations for their own appearances. Television requires lighting adjustments, makeup and wardrobes to put talent in the best position for viewers. When comparison self appearance to reality stars it is important to keep in mind that their appearances are being adjusted for viewing.
- Social lives only exist digitally or on television
Dr. Jana Scrivani, a licensed clinical psychologist, believes that reality shows cause people to feel less connected to others in their everyday lives. Viewing a reality show week after week allows bonds to be formed that make viewers feel as though these stars are really parts of their family or personal friends. There is less strain in investing in these virtual friends in comparison to peers because a show only takes 30 minutes to an hour out of our day.
- Personal reality brings less joy
Dr. Racine R. Henry, licensed marriage and family therapist, believes that viewing these types of shows may serve to dampen one’s perspective of their own situations.
Reality programming is meant to be watched, so story lines are extremes of behavior. The shows can be triggering to those in situations that are at the opposite extreme.