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Is Watching Keeping Up with the Kardashians Making Us Less Empathetic? Researchers Say “Yes”

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Nov. 21 2018, Updated 3:19 p.m. ET

Before you turn to E!, drop the remote. According to a new study by the London School of Economics and Political Science, watching “materialistic media”, such as Keeping Up with the Kardashians and Real Housewives of New York make us less sympathetic to the poor. And it only takes 60 seconds.

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Results found that watching excessive amounts of television shows that glamourize wealth, fame and lives of luxury can increase negatives attitudes about welfare and people living below the poverty line. Lead researcher, Rodolfo Leyva, says it’s because these shows typically evoke our selfish mentalities.

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“If there is more emphasis on materialism as a way to be happy, this makes us more inclined to be selfish and anti-social, and therefore unsympathetic to people less fortunate,” said Leyva.

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“If there is more emphasis on materialism as a way to be happy, this makes us more inclined to be selfish and anti-social, and therefore unsympathetic to people less fortunate,” said Leyva.

A group of 487 people, aged 18-49, were broken into two groups and told they were participating in a study to test memory and attention. One group was shown ads of luxury goods and tabloids of celebrity drama. The other group was shown neutral images such as nature and transportation ads. Both groups were surveyed about their attitudes towards wealth and success, government benefits, and impoverished people. More specifically, they were asked about their support for the governmental enactment of public policies like tax cuts and welfare.

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The information that cemented the results, even more, was when participants were asked about their viewing habits. Those who frequently watched shows like Keeping Up with the Kardashians, Real Housewives, and The Apprentice, were more likely to have anti-welfare attitudes. The materialistic views were even stronger for those who regularly viewed these types of shows and were shown luxury goods.

While it’s easy to get caught up in the lifestyles of the rich and famous, the moral of the story is it’s okay to keep up with the Kardashians as long as you’re keeping far away from judgemental attitude.

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