Shows Like ‘Keeping Up With The Kardashians’ Can Make Viewers More Selfish, Study Finds

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Keeping up with the Kardashian-Jenner clan may be affecting how you view the world.

At least that’s what researchers of the London School of Economics and Political Science believe. In a recently published study, the academics contend that viewers who regularly indulge in TV shows like Keeping Up with the Kardashians are less likely to be empathetic to the plight of the poor.

Researchers found that those who watch shows that glamourize fame, luxury, and the accumulation of wealth tend to agree with more punitive cuts to welfare payments, according to the study. The study found that even one minute of exposure to materialistic media was enough to significantly increase anti-welfare beliefs.

“Humans are inherently materialistic but also very social and communal… 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,” said Rodolfo Leyva, the lead researcher of the study.

Levya and his team conducted a survey experiment on 487 British adults aged between 18 and 49 to assess their responses to luxury-focused adverts.

One group was exposed to four adverts for luxury products, four tabloid photos of famous celebrities showing off expensive goods, and four newspaper headlines of rags to riches stories. The second group was exposed to media containing more neutral messages, such as ads for the London subway system, images of natural scenery, and newspaper headlines about dinosaurs.

The participants were also asked about how frequently they watch TV shows like The Apprentice, X-Factor, Keeping Up with the Kardashians, and Made in Chelsea.

The groups were then asked questions that measured their attitudes toward wealth and success, government benefits, and impoverished people, as well as their support for government-enactment policies.

Results showed that momentary exposure to materialistic media has an effect on both anti-welfare attitudes and support for anti-welfare policies. In the end, the group exposed to the materialistic media were more likely to have anti-welfare attitudes and be supportive of anti-welfare policies, such as tax cuts, austerity measures, and welfare reductions.

The results also showed that those who regularly consumed those types of TV shows and read tabloid newspapers or magazines filled with luxury goods were far more likely to hold “stronger materialistic and anti-welfare attitudes than lighter consumers of these shows.”

“This study can contribute to explanations for why the U.K. public’s support for welfare to aid the impoverished and unemployed has been decreasing,” Leyva concluded.