TV shows portraying the high life make us less empathetic towards poor people, study says

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Khloe Kardashian, Kendall Jenner, Kris Jenner and Kim Kardashian West. Photo by Rich Fury/Getty Images
Khloe Kardashian, Kendall Jenner, Kris Jenner and Kim Kardashian West. Photo by Rich Fury/Getty Images

Are you addicted to shows like Keeping Up with the Kardashians? Or maybe you simply can’t get enough of the Real Housewives series? 

And with the latest season - the 18th season, to be exact - of Keeping Up with the Kardashians that just premiered on E! last night, plenty of people around the world will be indulging in this kind of content as we spend our days social distancing. 

And yes, reality TV shows are going to rake in the viewings over the next few weeks, whether it's on Netflix, E!, TLC or Mzansi Magic, as escapism will help you find solace in the drama, frenzy and excitement of other people's lives.

Perhaps it’s not even reality shows that you can’t get enough of, but simply a series like Gossip Girl, which features people who are living the kind of lifestyle that many people might aspire to. 

Well, it turns out that watching these kinds of shows – series or reality shows that promote living the high life – actually damages your perception of poor people and tends to endorse anti-welfare sentiment, a study has found.

READ MORE: 10 new beauty brands and ranges launched by the Kardashian/Jenner sisters in 2019 alone

According to Teen Vogue, this new study, which was conducted in the UK and polled about 487 people between the ages of 18 – 49, revealed that those who watch shows about the lifestyles of the rich are more likely to be less sympathetic to causes that are designed and developed to help poor people.

In this report, people were asked to share the following:

  • attitudes towards wealth and success
  • thoughts on policies and government benefits that would help impoverished people
  • how often they watch shows which include the likes of The Apprentice, Keeping Up with the Kardashians and X-factor, to mention but a few.

The study suggested that the more time people spent watching these shows, the more negative the responses towards any welfare policies were.

While there’s no doubt that watching shows like KUWTK certainly has entertainment value, particularly because this family’s middle name is drama, they also represent a lifestyle that on the surface seems like everything anyone could ever want.

The problem is that shows like these often give the impression that achieving wealth and success is not only easily accessible, but also instantaneous. 

READ MORE: Can we celebrate Kylie Jenner’s success and still point out that she’s not self-made?

And I think that often skews people’s perception because what they don’t realise is that some people have the advantage of being given a platform, being born into wealth or are hard-working but have also had resources to help them.

This takes me back to a piece about that time that Kim K posted a quote on Snapchat that upset so many people. The quote she posted said something along the lines of how you can’t be a millionaire if you have a minimum wage ethic. And I feel like this same attitude can certainly be seen here, because it doesn’t take into account that actually, sometimes poor people don’t have access to the resources needed, and that sometimes people are forced to work with little pay because there are no other opportunities.

When you see that kind of wealth portrayed on screen, it’s easy to think that living the dream can look and be effortless. But we need to remember that people who live a lifestyle way above our own, doesn’t make them any better than the average person on the street.  

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