Even those participants who claimed pop culture is unimportant suffered psychological ill effects from feeling out of the loop

My next contribution to BPS Research Digest. Enjoy reading!


Celebrities are people famous for being famous. Have you ever given any thought to how it happens that pop-culture figures become so well-known, even when they have risen to the top upon a wave of interest for which there was not the slightest rational explanation? What is the real root cause of our lemming-like rush to keep tabs on insignificant but famous people? What leads us to share this information on social media? Why do we visit gossip portals and read tabloids, even though they’re totally worthless to us? Partial answers to these questions are given by a trio of researchers via a series of creative experiments that they’ve reported in Psychology of Popular Media Culture.

Most of us are afraid of being excluded or ignored. The ability to detect and avoid ostracism likely developed for evolutionary reasons – as humans, remaining in groups enhances our survival. Often, even when the experience of ostracism seems trivial or rationally beneficial, we experience negative consequences. Nicole Iannone at Radford University and her colleagues concluded that the feeling of being “out of the loop” on popular culture may produce similar psychological consequences as partial ostracism – especially less “need satisfaction” (that is, less satisfaction of the four fundamental needs of belonging, self-esteem, meaningful existence, and control), reduced competence, and more negative moods. Read more…



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