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What does watching a reality show say about you? 

By  Lysette Offley

What does watching a reality show say about you? Photo of woman applying lipstick in a mirrorYep – it’s Reality Show Time!

The Apprentice, Pop Idol, The X Factor, I’m a Celebrity…, Project Catwalk, Katie & Peter, Big Brother, Life of Grime, Any Dream will Do, Bake Off, First Dates, The Only Way is Essex, Judge Grinder…

And what can we say about the people who actually take part in these programmes?

Ahem, Grand Designs…

Let’s not even go there!!

What does watching a reality show say about you? Photo of Kevin McCloud and Lysette Offley laying a piano duetThough in our defence, we did GD to support our architect, rather than for ourselves…

Your typical reality show viewer

Psychologists tell us that people who watch more reality TV shows have more narcissistic personalities!

They say that these shows attract people with more vain and narcissistic traits; who look out for and feel more affinity with characters similar to themselves and the more of the programs they watch, the more normal narcissistic behaviour seems.

It is also thought that reality shows could be making people more narcissistic.

And it’s not just reality TV, people who watch more sports – political talk shows and thrillers fall into the same category.

What does watching a reality show say about you? Photo of narcissus flowerPeople who watch news programs however, tend to score lower on the narcissistic scale.

Phew! I’m all right then!

Maybe the sort of people who watch the news are more interested in other people and what’s going on around them in the world, than their narcissistic friends.

We’ve been aware for a long time that our youngsters are becoming more narcissistic. Indeed, they seem quite proud of the fact, and to identify them, all you have to do is ask! They’ll be very quick to admit it!

But what’s the fuss about? Who cares if we are becoming more narcissistic as a society?

Well, I do, for one!

What does watching a reality show say about you? - image of choice between me and youSo much of our media is encouraging self-interest at the expense of other people’s well-being. It all seems to be about focusing on yourself rather than your community. And we know that a lot of dysfunctional thinking and behaviour, as well as negative emotions and a poorer experience of life can come out of spending too much time focusing inwards with rather than outwards.

What does watching a reality show say about you? Image of road sign to you, me or we20 years of teaching in classrooms taught me that no matter what personal challenges I was experiencing, the moment I walked into a classroom, and until the end of the school day, my focus, quite naturally being on and with 30 other people at a time, meant that I wasn’t ruminating on my own problems.

And that’s a good thing. Ask any depressed person where their focus is. That should tell you something.

We are social animals. We are hardwired to be with other people, not in our own individual, self-absorbed bubbles.

It’ll come to no good, I tell you.

You have been warned!



Oh go on! You know you want to… Leave a comment and tell me if you agree… or not…


Do you think narcissism’s OK?

Maybe you agree with Dr Nigel Barber that social media is partly to blame? Read his article “Is Narcissism All Bad?”


Is there such a thing as healthy narcissism, do you think?

Read Elizabeth Lunbeck’s article, “5 Things You Didn’t Know About Healthy Narcissism


You’re so vain – Carly Simon

I bet you think this song is about you. Don’t you? Don’t you?



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  1. Hi Lysette
    Your absolutely spot on in my view.
    I cant abide any reality show and don’t watcxh that much tv but what I do is news / information oriented.

    Social activities with family & friends, interests and knowledge gathering are far more important in life. Outdoors is better than the TV couch. Life is too short.

    Keep up the weekly reportage, I don’t do responses but in this instance I am moved to action!

    Only a couple of months left on my Shiplake projects so I must pop in for a cup of tea with you before the end!

    Best regards

    1. Hi Bob. Ta! They say though that watching the news can lead to depression and a feeling of helplessness! Seems whatever we watch on TV is going to get us one way or another! Can’t imagine not watching any TV at all! What on earth did we use to do in the good old days when there was little on the box? Oh yeah – I remember… talk to each other! 🙂

  2. Hi Lysette,

    An interesting and pertinent message on some recent events, which have revealed my father to be even more narcissistic than I had thought previously (or even possible). Fortunately for my mental well being, he deserted us as a family when I was young and I really haven’t had much to do with him in the intervening 50 years – he is just an old bloke I know, who I don’t particularly like, who holds very different views on the world and has very different standards from my own.

    His wife died recently and my kind-hearted sister and brother-in-law took him in, much to my dismay. What happened in the month he stayed with them threw their contrasting attitudes and outlook on life into harsh reality.

    My sister & BIL have built a very happy family – three children, five grandchildren (and counting) and a large network of friends. They invest a lot of time and effort in engaging with all of these people and helping out whenever they can – both practically or emotionally – which has got harder over the years as more people they know have become unwell in one way or another. Added to which my BIL had prostate cancer, which thankfully has been dealt with.

    After a recent trip away for a few days, my sister and BIL returned home to be greeted by a tirade from my father about how uncaring they were (to him), how he didn’t like their life-style (they are often out, or on the phone, or skyping their youngest daughter who is in the USA and has just had a baby), how rotten a cook my sister is (not entirely true…), how he can’t have an intelligent conversation with my BIL (!), how he can’t get any peace when his great-grandchildren are around (!!!) and on and on and on.

    Remarkably, my sister didn’t resort to patricide, but instead suggested that perhaps he (our father) might be happier elsewhere.

    Next thing we know, he has (half-heartedly) attempted to take an overdose by swallowing a handful of painkillers and is now thankfully in the care of the local authority health system, where he has been assessed as being totally self-absorbed, with an inflated opinion of himself and no interest in anything that doesn’t revolve around him. Oh, and that he is depressed.

    Well no surprise there then.

    My sister & BIL are remarkably up-beat about the whole episode, but are now battling with their highly developed sense of responsibility and compassion, even for a miserable, selfish old man who had a corrosive impact on the happy life they had established.

    In this one instance, I do hope they think about themselves first.


    1. Goodness, Martin – thank you for sharing all of that with us. It takes an enormous amount of courage to allow people to be the way they are, especially when they’re ‘supposed’ to be the way we want them to be, as in the case with a parent. It’s hard not to focus on what might have been instead of accepting what you actually got – and it just goes to show how resourceful and resilient we can be, regardless of our circumstances. They say, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger! They (whoever they are) also would suggest this is all ‘character building’ though I have to admit, there are times that I’m feeling my character doesn’t need any more building, thank you very much!! Marshall Rosenberg, hero and recently departed, was extremely effective at teaching us how to let other people’s stuff belong to them, rather than pretending it was anything to do with us, and I recently came across a lovely quote. Try this for size…

      “If you are willing to look a another person’s behaviours toward you as a reflection of the state of their relationship with themselves rather than a statement about your value as a person, then you will, over a period of time cease to react at all.” Yogi Bhajan

    2. Hi Martin. Wouldn’t it be just brilliant if life were easier! They say that what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger, and it sounds as though you’ve all learnt from your experiences, despite your disappointments. You’ve reminded me of a documentary I saw on TV, which still haunts me. The chap was extraordinarily selfish and self-centred to the very end. It was as though there was no one else there with him. What a limited existence he must have led. I guess, like every other behaviour, he’d learnt to protect himself this way. But what a lot he must have shut himself off from. On top of my incredulity, I felt sorry for him, and am very grateful to have a better quality of life myself. Of course, I also felt sorry for this guy’s wife, who’d put up with him – and also wondered what was going on for her that she did. This post obviously touched a nerve with you. Thank you for your very generous share. I’m sure I’m not the only one to appreciate it.

  3. Hi Lysette,
    For a Reality show with knobs on and amazing that anyone would want to take part try SEX BOX.
    Best regards
    PS I recall that Graham Norton started his career on a similar TV show

    1. Goodness, Raymondo. The mind boggles! Wouldn’t it be interesting to ask them!

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Lysette Offley

Genius Maker & Founder of Genius Material and The Genius Principles. Working with professionals who need exceptional academic & professional development.

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