Pop Culture

Survey Says: Watching Reality TV Makes You Neurotic

I am not ashamed to admit that I watch reality television, although I focus mainly on the mainstream shows ““ Real Housewives, Top Chef, things like that. Apparently though, I should be alarmed, because according to a recent study by, those who watch reality shows that are non-competitive are “more extroverted, neurotic, and have lower self-esteem.” 

Almost 19,000 people took part in the study, and most said that they watched reality shows out of boredom. Almost half of all women said they were primarily interested in seeing how rich people lived their lives, which I understand; I want to know what it’s like to be rolling in money and not constantly pulling up the Bank of America mobile app to make sure you’re not overdrawn.

I’m not surprised that people view these shows out of boredom (who hasn’t been sucked into a marathon or two of some stupid show on the weekend) or to see how the other half lives, but I am thrown for a loop when it comes to how these people are described. At my office, we watch a lot of reality TV, from Dancing with the Stars to Duck Dynasty, and I wouldn’t refer to myself or any of my co-workers as extroverted neurotics with low self-esteem. In fact, I think I suffer from high self-esteem most of the time! Based on how reality shows are able to distort people and their actions, I would think that the casual viewer would feel better about themselves after watching, because come on, you look like a great boyfriend or girlfriend because you weren’t just caught on camera cheating, or a wonderful child because you didn’t steal from your parent to fund an addiction. I can definitely see someone being depressed after a marathon of Intervention or Hoarders, but not necessarily feeling like a bad person (unless, of course, they saw qualities about themselves that they loathe manifested through someone else, but would that make you neurotic?).

I am turning it over to the readers of Persephone. Do you watch reality shows, and fall into the neurotic, low self-esteem category? Are you the opposite, and feel better about yourself after watching Jersey Shore? Do you even remember a time when there was original programming on television?



By Catherine

Catherine is a Southern California based freelance writer, whose work has appeared in everything from the New York Times to Entertainment Weekly. The highlight of her life (so far) was being featured on MSNBC for a story she wrote on Hello Kitty wines...she knew one day her love of all things HK would come in handy.

3 replies on “Survey Says: Watching Reality TV Makes You Neurotic”

I don’t actively seek out realty TV shows (with the exception of PR), but I get easily sucked into them when I come across them. I have wasted many hours watching marathons of Wife Swap, A Baby Story, Toddlers and Tiara’s, Teen Mom, 16 and Pregnant, ANTM, Hoarders, I love New York, Housewives, etc. etc. And each time I get sucked into another marathon, I ask myself, ‘why am I watching this!?’ But I can’t stop myself because it’s like watching a train wreck and I can’t peel my eyes away. I have no idea what this says about my self esteem, but the last time I checked, it felt fine. :)

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