Tag Archives: reality television

Dating in the Dark: A Love Reaction?

727px-1805-courtship-caricatureA new reality series is trying to answer a question that has plagued social psychologists for decades: Do looks matter in love? Dating in the Dark, which puts a unique twist on dating that only a reality program could, features single men and women who are brought together in a dark room to date. At the end of the episode, the couples are finally allowed to see each other in the light of day and decide whether they wish to pursue a relationship.

From an empirical standpoint, both men and women report that physical attractiveness is important in a romantic partner, though men seem to value it more. However, recent research indicates that while sex differences may exist for perceived importance of physical attractiveness, people might actually overestimate its impact. Finkel and Eastwick (2008) have found that men and women are equal in the degree to which physical attractiveness influences romantic interest in speed-dating. Moreover, for both men and women, people who reported physical attractiveness as important were no more likely than others to pursue relationships with individuals they rated as attractive.

While Dating in the Dark falls well short of an empirical test for understanding the importance of physical attractiveness, it nonetheless provides an entertaining way for us to observe the extent to which it affects human behavior. The show airs Monday nights on ABC.

Dating in the Dark Dating in the Dark

Speed-Dating Speed-Dating (Finkel & Eastwick, 2008)

The entertainment value of human nature

800px-Video_CameraA natural human tendency is to form groups to fulfill our social needs, navigate a world full of obstacles and threats, and also provide us with a sense of identity and self-esteem. The latest season of CBS’s Big Brother, set to premier this Thursday, July 9, will exploit this innate proclivity. The show puts a dozen willing wannabes in a house under surveillance for approximately three months. Once a week the contestants vote to evict one member of the household until only two remain, when the formerly evicted contestants vote for a winner who will receive $500,000. This season the show will split the houseguests into three age-old high school cliques: “popular,” “athletes,” and “brains.” 
Cliques create a unique experience of power and dominance with highly specific intra-group stratification and provide a sense of identity and purpose for members (Adler & Adler, 2007). They have a strict code of membership (e.g., what one wears, how one acts) and are exclusive (e.g., members are not free to socialize with outsiders, initiation to the group is difficult to obtain). The show’s format already ensures that contestants form alliances in order to win and labeling these groups from the outset that already have stereotypes and expectancies associated with them only accelerates a process that would have occurred anyway with or without the cameras. While we’d all like to believe that cliques exist only in the cafeteria or on the playground they can be found in nearly any place where human beings interact.



CBS Big Brother


Meet the Cast of Big Brother 11


Preadolescent Clique Stratification and the Hierarchy of Identity


Teens Health: The Nature of Cliques

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