Reality TV watchers are bigger whores online, research found

People who watch lots of reality TV shows are big whores online, sharing more information about themselves and gathering friends they don’t know, according to a study by two universities.

University of Buffalo and University of Hawaii researchers’ study [PDF] found that there’s “a consistent relationship between reality television consumption on the length of time spent logged on to these sites, the size of user’s networks, the proportion of friends not actually met face to face, and photo sharing frequency while controlling for age, gender and education.”

Since they’re academics, they didn’t use the word “whores,” but do say that reality TV watchers are more “promiscuous” online. Among other things, reality TV watchers are more guilty of “promiscuous friending,” which means their “friend networks … contain many people who they have not actually met or have no external relationship with.”

Using “456 young adults,” “researchers analyzed the amount of time subjects said they spent every day watching [reality TV], news, fiction and educational programming; the amount of time they were logged in daily, the size of their online networks, the percentage of their friends not met face-to-face and the number of photos they shared online,” according to a press release.

UB’s Michael Stefanone told The Spectrum that “Social cognitive theory suggests that we are always looking for different ways to behave. When people on reality TV are rewarded for behaviors such as being the center of attention and gain celebrity from it, it communicates to the audience that these behaviors are good things,” he said. “The more they watch, the more time they are likely to spend on Facebook gaining a larger network of friends, a good portion of whom they’ve never met and sharing more pictures of themselves. These activities are consistent with the media’s effect.”

We’re All Stars Now: Reality TV, Web 2.0 and Mediated Identities [University of Buffalo]
Reality TV and social networking Web sites lead to promiscuous behavior [The Spectrum]

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.