Ninth Brown Bag – November 14, 2014


Nicky Lewis, Doctoral Candidate, Department of Telecommunications, Media School

Social Comparison in Reality Television

Reality television programming has experienced tremendous growth in the last decade. By combining relatively low production costs and a quick turnaround for broadcast, these types of programs have increased in popularity worldwide. However, what makes these programs engaging to media audiences is still uncertain. Although several researchers have explored the relevant features of reality programs and viewers’ perceptions of those programs, little is known about the psychological processes at work amongst the viewers themselves. Informed by social comparison theory, this presentation will demonstrate how directional social comparisons with cast members influence emotional responses to reality television programming, including enjoyment.


Nicky Lewis (M.A., Indiana University) is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Telecommunications at Indiana University.  Her research interest involves media psychology, especially as it applies to consumption behavior.

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