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I’M A CELEB: Why do we love seeing celebrities do gross stuff?

According to psychologists, there’s a reason behind it!

I’m A Celeb has kicked off with thrilling challenges and bug filled traps already. Ahead of the first episode airing, a psychologist has broken down the reason why we love seeing celebs do gross things.

For fans of the long-running reality show, watching the rich and famous being forced to stuff their faces with all manner of nausea-inducing items is one of the best bits. But have you ever wondered why it’s so enjoyable to watch celebrities trying to wolf down fermented eggs or crocodile penis?

Ahead of the new series, which will be taking place at Gwrych Castle near Abergele in North Wales for the second year running due to pandemic travel restrictions, we asked a psychologist to breakdown the strange appeal of the Bushtucker Trial…

We love to watch celebrities suffer

“There’s a Japanese word, meshiuma [which means] the misfortune of others tastes like honey,” says Dr Audrey Tang, psychologist and author of The Leader’s Guide to Resilience. The sweetness of schadenfreude (to borrow the German term) is heightened when famous people are involved because humans are social creatures and, in an evolutionary sense, we’re very aware of hierarchy and status.

“[Watching] celebrities doing something which is disgusting or funny or awful, and they’re just not enjoying it, we get a sense of reward. Dopamine is firing up and we’re thinking, ‘That’s really funny, at least it’s not me’.”

… especially if we don’t think they’re really that famous

Do you find it particularly satisfying watching a so-called Z-list celeb on I’m A Celeb having to guzzle foul-smelling liquids or munch creepy crawlies, as opposed to a star you truly admire?

While it’s not particularly kind or gracious, Tang explains: “[If] in our perception they’ve done nothing to earn their status, even more so do we want them brought down a peg or two. It makes us feel that little bit better.”


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