If you’ve ever felt slightly more simple-minded after watching Snooki “smush” with a muscle-bound “gorilla” or tuning in as Pauly D and The Situation fist-pumped to the thumping rhythms of obnoxious techno beats, you may not be imagining things.
A new study, conducted at Austria’s University of Linz, suggests that watching reality shows like Jersey Shore might be doing more teaching about the joys of “GTL.” Scientists have come up with a new concept called, “Media Priming” — a doctrine founded on the belief that pop culture can influence emotions and behavior. As part of the study, researchers divided volunteers into two focus groups. One group was told to watch Jersey Shore, the other was instructed to watch other shows. Both groups of subjects were then asked to answer multiple choice questions on “general knowledge.” At the end of the study, volunteer who watched the reality show more regularly scored much lower on the aptitude test than those who did not.
“What you’ve been thinking about recently or seeing recently (is) at a higher level in your consciousness, so your brain is kind of predisposed in that direction,” psychologist Joanne Cantor, professor emerita of communication arts and outreach director center for communication research at the University of Wisonsin-Madison, explains. “So if you’ve just seen a movie about really altruistic people and you get an opportunity to behave altruistically, you’ll probably do it, rather than if you’ve just seen a movie about selfish people.”
While you’re getting dumber, the cast of Shore are getting pay rises for the reality show’s planned fifth season. TMZ reports that the cast, including low-lifes such as Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino and Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi, refused to sign up for season four unless they were guaranteed “their biggest salaries yet.”
The silver lining is all this is that the cast won’t be paid a lot more: their raises are apparently not huge, but still significant. Nevertheless, the fact that they’re all paid so much money to act the way they act ought to violate the laws of physics or something.
Hold on to your Thinking Caps, Jersey Shore returns for a fourth season of debauchery — live from Florence, Italy — this August.