Oscar Psychology: Why We Love Celebrity

The Oscars are tonight! But why do we care so much? Not everyone is a movie buff. More likely, we are drawn to the lives of celebrities because of an evolutionary drive for status.

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The Oscars are tonight! But why do we care so much? After all, not everyone is a movie buff. We are more likely to tune in tonight because of an evolutionary drive for status, say behavioral psychologists. Learning about high-status individuals can give us clues about how to become one, says professor Daniel Kruger, and knowing about their lives makes us more able to navigate the social scene, i.e. participate in popular conversation. Today, media and technology have nourished that drive, making celebrity ubiquitous.  

What's the Big Idea?

Many celebrities now use social media to interact directly with their fans, creating what psychologists call 'parasocial' relationshipsthe term emphasizes the one-sided nature of the interactions. And even though most people admit that knowing about celebrities' lives does not change their own, we still seem to care. "Whether Brad Pitt is on good terms with his ex Jennifer Aniston isn't likely to affect the average person's life one way or another, of course, but the social tendency to care is deeply ingrained."

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