How and Why Your Brain Responds to Celebrity Gossip
Have you noticed how pretty much everything we’re shown these days comes with a “scientifically backed/proven” label attached to it: “5 Scientifically Proven Ways to Lose Your Belly Fat”? Now, even our response to celebrity gossip has been subject to scientific analysis. A recent study from China has attempted to explain how the brain responds to celebrity gossip. The evidence shows that we really do enjoy listening to tittle-tattle about the Kardashians or other celebrities. Read on for the study’s highlights.
The study’s participants were invited to rate their emotions when listening to both positive and negative gossip about celebrities, themselves and their closest friends.
The participants were happy to listen to “positive gossip”. At the neural level, brain patterns showed enhanced neural activity in the reward system when the participants were listening to negative gossip about celebrities (transgressions or misdemeanours carried out by celebrities). However, interestingly, self-reported ratings suggested that they were not amused. In other words, although the participants reported that they did not enjoy listening to gossip about celebrities’ misdemeanours, their brain scans showed otherwise.
Why is Celebrity Gossip So Captivating to So Many?
There are websites and publications that owe their very existence to the existence of celebrities and they monitor every move celebrities make. But why are we so captivated by Justin Bieber and others of his ilk getting up to all manner of misdemeanours? According to an article published by the British Psychological Society, our fascination with gossip is a legacy from days of old when it had a survival value.
According to research carried out by Eric Anderson, at Northeastern University, negative information acquired through gossip influences vision so that we not only gain information about others, but we are also able to hold on to their image for longer. Historically this would have been crucial in improving chances of survival. However, like me, you may feel this explanation falls short: it doesn’t sufficiently address why Kanye West’s outbursts, for example, are so enthralling to us.
Why Are We So Obsessed?
Such is the appetite for celebrity gossip that there is a proliferation of websites and blogs dedicated to feeding us with a daily diet of celebrity food. Like fastidious gluttons, we can’t get enough and so we eat it all up, even though it’s not good for us. We claim from time to time to feel weakened by such a voluptuous diet; we moan and groan that we’ve reached saturation point. But like true gluttons we come back for more. We’re obsessed.
But are we so obsessed because there are now so many media outlets documenting every move celebrities make? Or are there so many celebrity-focused media outlets out there because of our intense, all-consuming celebrity obsession?
Over to you: why do you think we are so captivated by celebrities? Is it mere escapism? Add your comments to the box below.