Evolutionary explanations into the attraction of celebrity: gossip theory

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Psychology unit 4 media revision
Evolutionary explanations into the attraction of celebrity
Gossip theory
Early humans lived in social groups and in order to survive and reproduce,
alliances were made which were first achieved through grooming but when humans
developed the ability to speak this developed through gossip. Gossip therefore
formed and maintained alliances as well as manipulating the reputations of rivals.
It was used to exchange information about potential mates and learn survival and
reproduction strategies vicariously. Today, gossip is used as we talk about people
in the media as we see them as part of our own social group and so we can fulfil
our need to gossip.
/ De Backer's study
Surveyed 800 Belgian participants with interviews and questionnaires. Found that
teenagers learn behaviours through gossip as they are interested in what
celebrities do to achieve prestige. Older people were found to gossip for
parasocial reasons and also to maintain real life contacts. This supports gossip
theory as it shows that younger people are attracted to celebrities so they can
learn from their behaviours.
Low population validity- only used Belgian participants, so results can't
be generalised to other cultures
Social desirability bias- used questionnaires so people may have lied on
questionnaires to fit in with society's expectations.
Davis and McLeod
Meta analysis of 736 news stories and ordered them into 12 categories to do with
survival and they found that similar headlines were seen across different cultures
and this supports the model as it shows that gossip is genetic and therefore
subject to evolution.
Levin and Arluke

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Psychology unit 4 media revision
Found that women spend more time gossiping than men as 71% of women's
conversation is related to gossip compared to 64% of men's conversation. This
gender difference is not explained by the theory.…read more


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