It might be time to stop keeping up with the Kardashians — a new study has found that viewers of reality television are more likely to be vain and self-absorbed.

From The Bachelor to The Real Housewives and the whole Kardashian Klan, reality TV is everywhere. But if this study’s findings are to be believed, it might be time to switch off.

Researchers at Ohio State University analysed the personalities and viewing habits of nearly 600 men and women, and found that a preference for watching reality TV was linked to high levels of narcissism — a personality trait that manifests itself as a grandiose sense of self-importance, a sense of entitlement and uniqueness, a lack of empathy, a tendency to exploit others, and a strong preoccupation with fame and success.

But here’s the real head-scratcher — researchers were unable to prove whether reality TV was actually encouraging narcissistic behaviour, or whether pre-existing narcissists were just naturally drawn to those shows.

In other words, which came first — the self-absorbed chicken or the fame-hungry egg?

“I suspect the truth is probably somewhere in the middle,” Ohio State University researcher Ted Dickinson said.

“Some people with narcissistic tendencies are seeking out media characters similar to themselves, whereas others who watch reality TV see narcissism as normalised behaviour and begin acting more narcissistic.”

The study, which was published in the Psychology of Popular Media Culture journal, asked 565 uni students to report how often they watched different TV genres, and how much time they spent watching television overall. They were then given a Narcissistic Personality Inventory (NPI) questionnaire used by psychologists to measure subclinical narcissism.

Those who watched more reality shows scored higher on the NPI than fans of other genres, as did those with a substantially higher level of daily TV exposure.

In great news for everybody who smugly prides themselves on “only watching the news”, viewers of news programmes scored lower on the narcissism scale.

Researchers speculated that “one possible explanation for this finding is that individuals who pay attention to the news are also more civically engaged and less individualistic”.

In a not-so-subtle slam on millennials, Dr Dickinson said the study participants had an average age of 20, and we may have seen different results if they were older, because “older people tend to be less narcissistic than younger people”.

[Via The Daily Mail]

Do you think watching reality TV affects your personality? Have your say in the comments below!