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    Bigg Boss 10 Is Here: What’s The Science Behind Guilty Pleasure Show Watching?


    Bigg Boss 10 is here and just like each year, this time too we will see 14 people stuck together in a house, with various cameras and microphones tracking their each movement.

    Now its back to nights of watching these ragtag bunch of housemates who, because they didn’t really have any other work decided to do Bigg Boss, will now meander their way through a variety of tasks and the worst of all, each other.

    But the immense hoopla and chatter that was made around Bigg Boss and the excitement I could almost see in people about this frankly crappy show was a bit jarring.

    I mean, don’t these people know that almost half of the fights, controversies and even romantic relationships are there just to increase the TRPs and get the votes from the audience watching?!



    This thought later brought me to the very existence of guilty pleasure shows and what exactly makes them tick?

    Why do people and that too educated and urban, supposedly modern people, not only choose to but actually want to watch these shows?

    Now, let me lay it out for the uninformed that guilty pleasure shows are those cheesy and frankly badly made shows that one would never accept to watching in ‘polite company’ but when in the privacy of their home would choose that show over a more intellectual one.

    So with that out of the way, let us understand the science behind it.

    Yes, there is actual science behind people watching guilty pleasure shows.

    1. More Guilt = More Pleasure

    According to various studies it has been found that guilt is commonly linked with pleasure.

    You know how your parents tell you not to do something, but you do it anyways? And that sort of almost feels better than doing the same thing with permission?

    Yup, that is exactly what the feeling of guilt does, and what has been studied in the research by Kelly Goldsmith, an assistant professor of marketing at Kellogg School of Marketing of Northwestern University and her then doctoral adviser Ravi Dhar. The study shows that pleasure intensifies as one is made to feel even the slightest bit of guilty.

    Professor Ravi Dhar from Yale University  was quoted as saying ‘For certain types of items, when you feel guilty, you may actually get more pleasure.’



    The media has caught on extremely well to this with producing content that is so bad that you have to watch it.

    Bigg Boss, teleseries like Naagin, other reality TV shows and more cater to this kind of audience only.

    1. Sadism: Watching The Misery of Others Makes Us Feel Better

    Okay, before you all come after me with pitchforks over how dare I call you guys sadists, but come on, let’s be real, we all get a certain enjoyment out of the pain and misery of others.

    On a psychological level, this not just helps us feel better but further if the misery is that of someone famous, it humanizes them and allows us to connect to them better.

    For a visual, you can imagine whenever two cars have bumped into each other and the owners are fighting over who was wrong, you will always most certainly see a decent ring of people around them.

    They won’t be doing anything, just watching, as if it was a show that was being put on for their own personal entertainment.

    That crowd is us, the audience watching such shows and just gleeful at seeing the spiraling of those people on screen.

    1. Mindless TV Is Exactly What The Doctor Ordered:

    Please, don’t even bother saying that you only watch Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad and other such critically acclaimed shows.

    This third reason could be seen as scientific or just plain laziness of our brains, where sometimes this mindless TV is exactly what we want after a hectic and gone to crap day.

    I believe that this point is a certain combination of the previous two and it comes out of having used your brains to its limit for the day.

    So you want to switch off the thinking and pondering part and just relish in the fact that perhaps someone other than you also had a bad day.

    We all have that one or two guilty pleasure shows that we just love to binge on and now you all know that it is perfectly alright to have one.

    Signing off I would say that, if you truly want to turn someone away from an horrendous show then keep the 1st point in mind and just take the guilt away. Accept it and make a show of how happy are you that the other person is watching that series. Once the guilt goes away so will the pleasure. And boom, mission accomplished.

    Image Credits: Google Images

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    Views presented in the article are those of the author and not of ED.

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    • ThatChemEngGuy

      Honestly, I never bothered watching sub par shows mostly because I didn’t find them engaging at all and the guilt factor was working the other way: feeling guilty because I wasted my time watching something stupid. All of this changed this weekend when through the YouTube rabbit hole I stumbled across full HD episodes of Hell’s Kitchen. It’s ridiculous, every episode has the same narrative, and despite all of this it’s entertaining as hell. There is just something special about watching people cook food and getting screamed at by Gordon. If you haven’t seen it yet, check it out.
      BONUS: 15 seasons worth of episodes to go through! :D