A new study has suggested that cognitive performance is slightly reduced in those who have higher levels of celebrity worship.
The study of 1,763 Hungarian adults was authored by Lynn E. McCutcheon, Ágnes Zsila, and Zsolt Demetrovics.
During the study, participants completed a 30-word vocabulary test and a digit symbol substitution test, which assesses fluid intelligence.
In addition to this, the researchers also gathered data on participants’ self-esteem, family income, material wealth and level of education.
Levels of celebrity worship were measured using a questionnaire known as a Celebrity Attitude Scale, PsyPost reports.
The participants were asked how much they agreed or disagreed with statements like: ‘I am obsessed by details of my favourite celebrity’s life’.
After accounting for demographic and socioeconomic variables, the researchers found those with high scores on the Celebrity Attitude Scale were associated with lower performance on the two cognitive tests used.
The authors of the study, published in BMC Psychology, said:
We found a weak tendency for those who showed the strongest admiration for their favourite celebrity to have lower cognitive skills, suggesting that the earlier results were not due just to chance.
Then, the authors explained how the results supported other studies on the topic.
Our results also support previous findings showing that excessive behaviours such as celebrity worshiping can possibly impair cognitive functioning, presumably due to the increased focus and energy invested in this behaviour that becomes dominant in the individual’s life.
Although celebrity admiration seems not to be a strong precursor of poorer cognitive performance, high levels of admiration can be regarded as one contributing factor to lowered performance in tasks requiring cognitive effort, independently from education or age.
However, whether celebrity worship is a cause or consequence of reduced cognitive ability is still up for debate.
The authors speculated, ‘[It] may be that individuals with higher levels of cognitive skills are more likely to understand the marketing strategies behind a famous person,’ which suggests these individuals may be less susceptible to celebrity worship.
While the findings don’t outright prove the relation between low cognitive scores and high celebrity worship, the authors do warn to approach the issue with caution.
‘Although our research does not prove that developing a powerful obsession with one’s favourite celebrity causes one to score lower on cognitive tests, it suggests that it might be wise to carefully monitor feelings for one’s favourite celebrity, keeping in mind that most celebrities are human beings who have some flaws just like average persons have,’ they said.
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