Why do some people love watching reality shows?

Why are reality shows so addicting? Why do we enjoy watching reality shows?
  1. Comparing themselves to others in real life

    Reality shows give people the chance to compare themselves to other people. For example, the viewer can see others living a life they wish they had, or going through some difficult situations they wish they never confront.

  2. Gaining skills that help them survive difficult situations

    A survey has showed that many people watch a show called ‘In an Instant’ simply because they learn how to survive various real life accidents and disasters. The viewers say that such a show helps them in gaining skills and knowledge because the solutions are logical, unlike action movies.

  3. Social comparison

    While watching a reality show, some people start gauging their own abilities, personality, emotions and other characteristics, comparing them to the people who are actually going through the situation they are watching. They put themselves in their shoes and start evaluating their capabilities.

  4. For nosy voyeuristic purposes

    Some people have traits of voyeurism, where they enjoy seeing, talking or even writing about something that is considered private. So watching reality shows satisfies their curious character.

  5. Reality shows are very competitive

    People enjoy the strong competition between the characters. Reality shows’ stars are unlike movie stars, they are always competing to be the spotlight of the show in order to get the most screen time. Viewers like this kind of attention-seeking war. (See Why unexpected things attract our attention?)

  6. Giving people the chance for additional gossping

    Researches show that the brain is wired for critical gossip. Reality shows give people the chance to talk behind other people’s back, which gives them a sense of satisfaction.

  7. People love the drama

    Reality shows’ drama is different than that found in movies and series. In reality shows, there is always exaggeration, which appeals to some viewers, especially that they know it is happening in real life, not just filmed. (See Why do people binge-watch TV shows?)

  8. Allowing viewers to multi-task

    Unlike movies and series, reality shows don’t require the viewer’s entire attention all the time. They give them the chance to do another task while enjoying them. Surveys show that females prefer reality shows as they always miss important parts when watching a movie.

  9. Identifying with the characters

    Some people watch a certain reality show because it is similar to their way of life. Sometimes, they relate to the show as one of the characters is having the same problem as them, or even has the same personality. Viewers love the feeling of belonging.

  10. Revealing about humanity

    A recent article published in New York Times highlighted that watching reality shows reveals a lot about humanity. ‘It is at once a window and a mirror, showing how real people react and interact in extraordinary situations’. The viewer is also forced to consider how he responds.

  11. A more interactive viewing experience

    A show like American Idol requires people to vote for their favorite contestants. The interaction involved increases people’s attachments as they feel that they have power and are part of the show.

  12. May influence people’s attitudes

    A show like ‘The Biggest Loser’ is more likely to influence people to lose weight. Watching real examples progressing and succeeding encourages people to do the same.

  13. The viewer gets the feeling that he has an elevated status

    Reality shows can make the viewer feel more important. The idea that the characters are ‘real’ and not movie stars ‘gives psychological significance to the viewers’ perceptions of superiority’, said doctor Steven Reis.

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