Why Are People So Interested in This Tiger Woods Thing?
So. Unless you’ve been living in a cave, you know by now that Tiger Woods got into a car accident on Friday morning. A media frenzy followed, fueled by a rumor of Tiger’s infidelity and his silence over the whole thing. Today, he announced that he wouldn’t play in his own golf tournament.
Talking heads proclaim that the public is due an explanation, and that the story simply isn’t going to go away without a public accounting of who (Tiger) had done what (or whom, as it were implied).
No, this post isn’t about Tiger, his accident, alleged affair, or whatnot. I don’t care about that – but what is interesting to me is why people care about such matters. If you follow this kind of news, let me ask you: what is it about celebrities that capture your fancy? What is so interesting about Jon and Kate, or Brad and Angelina or whomever.
Jaye L. Derrick and Shira Gabriel of the Department of Psychology, University at Buffalo, SUNY, published a study that “connections” to celebrities or parasocial relationships, allow people with low self-esteem to view themselves more positively:
The current research demonstrates that parasocial relationships can have self-enhancing benefits for low self-esteem people that they do not receive in real relationships. These parasocial relationships, which have very low risk of rejection, offer low self-esteem people an opportunity to reduce their self-discrepancies and feel closer to their ideal selves.
“Even ‘fake’ relationships with celebrities, relationships without any actual contact, can have benefits for the self,” the authors conclude. “We found that parasocial relationships can sometimes have benefits for people with low-self esteem that ‘real’ relationships do not.”
Or is it genetics? Duke University Medical Center neurobiologist Michael Platt found that adult rhesus macaque monkeys would pay (by giving up their favorite drink, Juicy Juice cheery juice) to look at images of dominant “celebrity” monkey of their pack.
So here’s my question to you again: What’s so captivating about celebrities?
(Photo: Jim Epler [Flickr])