reality check


All this hue and cry happening about reality shows. Let’s understand what a reality show actually is.

Formerly a reality show meant a show of real life that was essentially news. Studied conducted by social anthropologists and social behaviour scientists have shown that people exposed to an average of 2-4hrs of viewership of violence in news tend to be aggressive.

With the spurt of the re-invention of reality clips there have been newer issue arising. One particular noting of the social scientist is the area of the early re-invention of reality show with the emerging of competition, the pressure on the participants has been enormous and many a times the participant is not emotionally capable of facing the criticism or the failure which is more than public.

Today  reality show means people appearing as themselves in various contexts.

1973 saw the entry of the camera into the normal next door house in America out of the total 300 hours that the crew filmed in their house only 12 hrs were aired. The family claimed that the editing and final presentation presented a distorted view of their family life.

From the organizers point of view it is less expensive to have a reality show as compared to a dramatic sequence. It also creates a connection between the viewer and show so the viewer ship increases. Since the show is supposedly about regular people. (Hibberd 2002)

The 1997 study of O’Gruin, shrum and Wyre show that an average American views television for about 4hrs, India is on that threshold now. As long as the students were aware that it was a made up dramatic show it did not affect their reality perception. But when they started viewing the reality shows their perception began to change.(study conducted by Dr.Grady in 1982.)

Recently the Missouri western college did a study with thirty students. They were between the age group18-23yrs, both genders and of mixed ethnic races. The study was conducted on the number of viewing hours and the impact on reality. But the group was also divided into 3 that are one group was just given the reality scale; two  group saw reality clippings (the American version of emotional atyachar, big switch, kathronke khiladi etc.) 4. Clippings each of 2mnts and then given the questionnaire. The group three was told that the clippings were false reality, shown the clippings and then given the reality test

Some of the sample questions asked was

  1. Two college students meet at a party and experience love at first sight
  2. Two female roommates who are friends gossip behind each other’s backs
  3. A young man wins a large sum of money and will not share it with his family
  4. A woman accepts the fact that the man she loves is seeing other women and continues to pursue him
  5. a man’s handsome appearance earns him celebrity status
  6. a young woman sees her favourite band in concert and ends up kissing the lead singer
  7. a man kisses ten different women all on the same day
  8. An unknown singer scores overnight success and receives huge record deal.

The participants had to mark this on a scale on 1 to 10 on the possibility of being a reality. The results were as follows:

Group Stimuli exposure Reality scoring
1 Only reality check 52.55
2 Clippings and reality check 71.60
3 Fake application, clipping viewing and reality check 57.11


Coming to the hours that they watched the television

Group Television viewing hrs/week Reality score mean
1 0-3 46.67
2 3-5 48.67
3 5-10 69
4 10 and more 81.50


The difference in reality perception becomes marginal once the subject understands that the reality is faked.

Since they perceive this as reality what happens is that children who are addicted to these shows tend to equate money, simulated beauty as parameters of happiness, and those who are more outdoor kind tend to replicate the fear factor kind of stunts.

When the children participate their growing up becomes distorted due to the persistent presence of the camera their failures get exaggerated.

The shows are increasingly focusing the younger audience. This would affect their general attitudes and behaviour. At one hand we cannot talk of a healthy whatever and on the other side expose them to this kind of crap.

The remote is with you, pick up and make a decision your child or the voyeur in you.


Dovepress journal peer review journal

Pubmed peer review journal

National journal of social health


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