The Kardashian-Jenner’s are a cultural phenomenon of our time, right? The obvious Instagram enviable selfies, the luxury Ferrari’s and G Wagon’s alongside those endless vacations to Mexico and Bora-Bora have us going crazy, wishing we could all expose ourselves to the world the way Kim K had once done am I right? Probably not, but nonetheless they have their viewers of their hit reality TV show hooked line and sinker towards their materialistic lifestyles.
According to a new study found at the London School of Economics and Political Science, watching shows such as “KUWTK” can make you less sympathetic and disregard other people’s welfare status. The researchers have found that even a staggering 60 seconds of exposure to such materialistic media content that “glamorizes fame, luxury and wealth” – as mentioned in Huffington Post, is enough to significantly increase an anti-welfare belief system, particularly in first world financially independent areas such as the UK. “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,” lead researcher Rodolfo Leyva mentions.
Leyva insists that as humans we are naturally materialistic and shows like “KUWTK” may bring across our more self-absorbed attitudes. “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,” Leyva reveals.
Leyva studied upon two groups of British adults, from the ages of 18-49. Both groups participated in an experiment to test both memory and attention span. The first group was shown advertisements for luxury goods, tabloid images and newspaper headlines featuring stories of wealth and decline for poverty. Meanwhile, the second group was shown more neutral ideas: scenes of nature, advertisements for London public transport and newspaper headlines
about geographical phenomena such as dinosaurs. The groups were then interviewed with an array of questions that were intended to measure their attitudes towards the global topics of wealth and success, civilians that are shown to be less fortunate and the government benefits.
The conclusion addressed that the group exposed to the materialism and cultural fame and wealth in the eyes of the media, were indeed more supportive towards anti-welfare attitudes and policies such as tax cuts. The members of each group were then asked about their TV viewing habits, in terms of routine, after or before work or college. Questions included their interest for the TV shows that engage with glamorous lifestyles and behaviours in terms of money, big houses, sports cars, such as “KUWTK” or “Made in Chelsea”.
Further questions added were if any participant read tabloid newspapers which are filled with materialistic goods such as GQ, Vogue or Cosmopolitan, regularly. The results further proved that participants who regularly engrossed themselves with this materialistic media were more likely to be in a position of holding “stronger materialistic and anti-welfare attitudes than lighter consumers of these shows.” So now you’re probably thinking to yourself; “Wait, I watch “KUWTK”, so does this suggest that I am an advocate for materialism!?” The probability is that you most likely are, but don’t want to admit to it. Instead, it would be a more sophisticated view to maybe balance your time with watching these glam shows on E! and focus on ways to help the less fortunate, so you don’t feel so guilty.
However, Leyva primarily carried out this research to increase awareness for how people’s viewing habits are shaping their attitudes towards the society we live in. “It’s certainly not my intent to offend anyone or to tell them what to watch,” he said. “I’d simply say that the more people become informed about how these shows and mass media in general can negatively influence their conceptions of reality, values and behaviours, the more they can actively resist some of the negative influences.”
To conclude, everyone is entitled to a healthy dose of “KUWTK” because it is, after all, a very binge worthy series that makes us gag for their wealth. Just remember to focus on what’s important and to stay humble to ourselves and the people around us.
By Rachel Quinn – Film Writer